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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Ply Gem expansion creates 200 more jobs
Investment of $9.1 million in Rocky Mount facility
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Photo by Charles Boothe: Lynn Morstad, president of Ply Gem Windows in Rocky Mount, announces the company’s’ expansion at a news conference Tuesday morning in the Franklin County Government Center.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

Ply Gem Windows is expanding and adding at least 200 jobs in the process.

Lynn Morstad, president of the Rocky Mount facility, said at a news conference Tuesday morning that 100 of those jobs have already been added and at least 100 more will be on the horizon as demand for products has increased.

The $9.1 million investment in the facility, he said, is part of the company's Enterprise Lean initiative, which includes new equipment, products and information technology.

New hires will include such jobs as unit assemblers, coordinators, value stream leaders, process owners, process engineers, technicians and information technology support.

"The investment in the Rocky Mount facility will ensure the local community will benefit from our growth initiatives," he said. "Through these initiatives, we are looking to bring our job count at the Rocky Mount facility to 1,100 associates by the end of next year."

That number could be higher, he added, and expansion should be completed by the end of 2014.

Morstad said the past four or five years "have been tough," as the plant, which at one time employed about 1,300, was forced into layoffs as the demand for products decreased.

"We've not only survived, we've strengthened our position," he said. "The (housing) market will come back and the demand will then come back quickly."

Morstad said the demand has already risen, and he anticipates that trend to continue.

"We do have the demand to support the (100) hires," he said. "The market is warming up."

The company wants to be in a position to meet that demand, he said, and having a "flexible capacity" is crucial to fill orders.

Ply Gem, which has manufacturing facilities in eight states, specializes in housing exteriors with the largest window fabrication plant located in Rocky Mount.

"We are focused on enhancing Ply Gem's product offering and customer experience to support planned growth from the housing market recovering," Morstad said. "This expansion demonstrates the confidence we have in associates at the Rocky Mount facility to deliver superior products and service to customers throughout North America."

"Ply Gem Windows has a long and proud history in Rocky Mount, and we're delighted that Ply Gem has the confidence to add jobs ... and the continued confidence in the quality of our workers," said Rick Huff, Franklin County administrator. "We look forward to helping Ply Gem grow as the economy improves."

The county and town have worked together to create a pro-business environment with the goal to be poised for growth and expansion, Huff said. Part of that environment is making sure a trained workforce is available.

"We will do what we can to get you the best workers possible," Huff said. "This is good news for the Franklin County economy all the way around."

Matt Hankins, assistant town manager, said he learned the recession was coming from Ply Gem, which saw a slowdown in housing starts before 2008.

The fact that the company now is making the commitment to expand is good news, he said.

Franklin County Supervisors Chairman David Cundiff said the announcement is "good economic news that we all need."

"It's an exciting time. It's a great time," he said.

The expansion and job creation happened because it was a "team effort," bringing together the company, county, town, The Franklin Center and other partners, Cundiff added.

Those partners included the Virginia Tobacco Commission, Virginia Jobs Investment Program and the Roanoke Valley Regional Partnership.

Mike Burnette, director of the county's commerce and leisure services department, said all worked together to help a business that has had its roots here since 1939.

"The lifeblood of any community is its existing businesses," he said.

The current manufacturing facility was established in 1939 and operated as MW Windows until it was purchased by Ply Gem in 2004.

The plant has manufactured many products since it was founded, including storm windows, aluminum windows, and window and door frames.

In recent years, the facility has made vinyl, vinyl-clad, aluminum-clad and wood windows, as well as patio doors for residential and light commercial construction.

Ply Gem is headquartered in Cary, N.C.

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