There are a lot of exciting things happening in Franklin County, as many of you may already know. I recently attended an Economic Development meeting about the current growth trends in the county, a few of the highlights were population growth, new building growth and new business growth. Each of these has probably been noticeable to those of us who live or work in Franklin County. What were once small towns are now filling up with neighborhoods and new businesses. Traffic in the morning can be a real challenge! (I, too, drive – or attempt to drive – through Youngsville each morning.) I often wonder how just two traffic lights can cause so much congestion!
One of the things I love about my job is that I sometimes get a first-hand look at the behind-the-scenes details of new businesses and get to share in the excitement when someone opens a business in our area that is unique and innovative, and that offers to solve problems in a way that can have far-reaching effects. I enjoy being part of a community that supports new ideas and new ways of approaching challenges! Several months ago, I was invited to visit a business that’s unlike any that most of us have ever seen.
The company is called PRTI. If you drive through Franklinton, you will never see it. Even if you knew where they were located, you would be challenged to find it. The day I went for my tour of the facility, I started out like I do for all other first-time visits to local businesses. I plug the address into my GPS and poof: I arrive. It took me 4 tries, but I finally found it! In all honesty, I really didn’t know what to expect or what I would find when I arrived.
I was greeted by two employees of the company and after introductions and a brief overview of the company, we set off on the tour. I learned so many interesting things about their process, how it all came about, and their plans for the future.
PRTI is a company that some of you may already know – they received tremendous support from our community as they got started and as they’ve grown over the past 5 years. For those who aren’t aware of what they do, PRTI turns whole tires into energy and the energy into value. Tires may not seem like a big problem at first glance, until you consider that NC and the USA disposes of almost 1 tire per person, per year. In NC, that equates to something between 12-16 million tires annually.
PRTI utilizes a technology that takes those tires and heats them to release gas, oil, solid fuel and steel, in a patented method that has not been seen before. I met with 2 of the founders, Wayne Machon and Marsha Burger, who got things started. They have since been joined by Jason Williams, the founder of Fastmed. Together, they have built a team to work on expanding the business.
They have spent some time getting their method right, automating it and getting it ready to scale up beyond their site in Franklinton. I was impressed by the process I saw, and the presentation they gave to the EDC. When I was wrapping up my visit, I was told that the entire facility is running off-grid, and has been for over 4 years. They are running the facility on the energy that they produce themselves! The team is working hard to build a multi-site business with Franklin County as its headquarters, training center, and R&D facility.
I believe we’ll be hearing much more from them as they grow! PRTI is currently making plans for expanding across the United States and Europe. One day, in the near future, this business will be well known, not only in Franklin County, but possibly worldwide; and it all started right here, in our “back yard.”
I hope to be able to showcase more of our local businesses, like I have here with PRTI. We have an amazing business community in Franklin County and whether yours is a new business or a well-established business doing something new, the Chamber looks forward to helping support your growth. If you are a business owner, and you would like to be featured, please reach out to me.