Courtesy of The McKenzie Banner
McKENZIE (January 2020) — Pottery Direct, a manufacturer of clay flowerpots, will open in mid-2020 in the McKenzie Airport Industrial Park-South. A new 40,000 square-foot building is complete and located west of the Rochelle Road, McKenzie.
Henk van Woerden, president, said Pottery Direct located in McKenzie because of nearby Spinks Clay Company and the excellent supply of natural gas from West Tennessee Public Utilities. The company, based in the Netherlands, was started in 1964 by Woreden’s father. He and brother, Martin now operate the company. Pottery Direct has a long history with ball clay supplier, Spinks, who mines ball clay from area mines. The area’s ball clay is some of the best in the world and Woreden thinks other manufacturers that use ball clay will soon locate in the area once Pottery Direct proves successful of operating here. West Tennessee Public Utilities has connected to two major pipelines that provide redundancy.
Woerden said he started working with Frank Tate, former executive director of the McKenzie Industrial Board, about locating in McKenzie. The company originally looked to expand in the former Nestaway building, but because of some complications, decided instead to construct a new building across from Nestaway.
Pottery Direct purchased the land from McKenzie Industrial Board and contracted with a construction management company to construct the building.
In the year 2020, the company hopes to have 20 associates with an around-the-clock production. In five to seven years, the company plans to expand and have approximately 45 associates. The company closes on Sundays to allow associates to worship as they choose.
The company will manufacture clay flowerpots in a variety of shapes and colors. The company’s major buyers are flower farms, greenhouses, and other agribusinesses.
The first two associates of Pottery Direct at its McKenzie plant are Patrick Forgy, safety compliance officer, and Jerry Hughes, technical manager for facilities and equipment. Both McKenzians recently spent two weeks in the Netherlands to learn about the processes of the company. “We are very happy with McKenzie,” said Woerden, who added the company has had no problem finding skilled workers. “I hope we can add value to the community and contribute to its success,” said the president.
Soon, the custom-made, highly mechanized equipment will arrive and be operational by mid-2020 for full production. Woerden said the equipment and processes are designed to reduce the amount of manual labor.
The manufacturing process is also environmentally friendly. Water used for manufacturing is recycled and ninety percent of waste is recycled. The company also has manufacturing operations in Canada.