Exeter facility to expand, add jobs

By C.J. Barbre

At the May 2 Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting, Rick Goddard, Director of Domestic and International Sales for Weyerhaeuser, announced plans to more than double the size of its Exeter plant which creates bulk packaging products. They even make corrugated pallets.

&#8220We are going to add about 100,000 square feet and 30-60 new jobs,” Goddard said.

According to their website, &#8220Containerboard is the building block of corrugated packaging, its properties giving corrugated products their strength and versatility. Weyerhaeuser Company is one of the world's largest manufacturers of containerboard (linerboard and medium), producing approximately 6.5 million short tons per year from 13 mills in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, enough to reach the moon and back 11 times.” It is also one of the world's largest integrated forest product companies and was incorporated in 1900. They have offices in 18 countries. Sales in 2005 were $22.6 billion. That includes lumber and paper products and more.

Goddard said out of the same heavy weight material they make structural panels for emergency disaster relief and have shipped coated boxes to the Pacific Rim, Afghanistan and Pakistan for disaster shelters. He said they provide 70% more warmth and shelter than a tent. &#8220

There is a really brilliant workforce here,” Goddard said. He was pleased that College of the Sequoias &#8220continues to grow a qualified workforce.” The additions amount to a $2 million capital investment Goddard told the supervisors, and they would be adding operations such as manufacturing of corrugated boards and food packaging.

He said it was a real bonus to be located near the San Joaquin Valley Railroad because they would be able to bring in all the paper by rail which is more cost effective and will result in less of an increase in truck traffic.

Goddard promised a &#8220completely closed loop recycling system so there is no environmental damage.” He added that Weyerhaeuser was the No. 1 paper recycler in the country.

Goddard rounded it all up with worker benefits, describing the jobs as &#8220family wage level” so employees would be able to buy a home. Employees also have full medical and dental benefits and a 401K plan.

He thanked District 1 Supervisor Allen Ishida for his assistance.

In an earlier press release Ishida was quoted as saying, &#8220This is a win-win for both the county and Weyerhaeuser. This is a state-of-the-art facility that is designed to be very efficient and environmentally friendly.” He added that Tulare County wants to be known as having a &#8220business friendly attitude toward economic development.” Of course, Exeter is in his district.

Chairman and District 4 Supervisor Steve Worthley said they were very excited, but remained subdued because this was just the presentation, that the project still had to be approved by the Planning Commission. &#8220I know the staff will work very hard,” he added.

&#8220The staff already has,” Goddard said.

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