Hyponex Corp. plans to start production of Scotts Miracle-Gro products out of the former Goodyear building by late November.
Steven Michalovich, senior specialist, corporate communications for The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., said the company searched more than 40 locations within 100 miles of Tyler for more than two years, working with local and state organizations to gain their support.
The Texas market of potting soil and mulch has grown from $30 million 14 years ago to $100 million now, Michalovich said. Scotts has similar plants in Cresson and Huntsville, as well as in Geismar, La.
“As a result of this continued strong growth, we began looking for a site in East Texas that was near necessary raw materials as well as located in a growing market area,” he said. “After an extensive search, our leadership team decided to purchase the property to expand in the southwest region of the U.S.”
Scotts bought 600,000 square feet of the former Goodyear building on Texas Highway 31 West. The deal was finalized Sept 17.
Miracle-Gro potting soils and Scotts Naturescape Advanced colored mulches will be manufactured at the Tyler plant, he said.
“Our plan is to utilize 240,000 square feet under roof for production and bagging operations,” Michalovich said. “The remaining will be demolished, and the remaining concrete slab would provide warehousing, loading and shipping space.”
“We will also create large demands for trucking companies, local raw material vendors, John Deere, Toyota and several other suppliers to support the daily operations, greatly benefiting the surrounding area,” Michalovich said.
In addition to creating jobs, wood chips and other materials for manufacturing will be sourced from area saw mills and yard waste. The company could use as many as 20 trucking firms for transportation as well, he said.
“This facility will service Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas,” he said. “Our major customers include Lowe's, Home Depot, Walmart and independent retailers.”
Trucks from Walmart will pick up Scotts products in Tyler instead of them being shipped to the Palestine distribution center for warehousing, he said.
In August, Hyponex, which makes Scotts Miracle-Gro, was granted a three-year, 100 percent abatement on property taxes by Smith County commissioners.
Scotts is investing about $10.7 million in building, land improvements, machinery, racking, diesel tanks, forklifts and loaders, with $4 million in potential inventory, Michalovich said.
The company bought the portion of the 1.12-million-square-foot facility and 63 acres from California-based Industrial Realty Group, or IRG.
Stuart Lichter, president of IRG, bought the facility and has been working to reinvent the space to attract new businesses, he said earlier.
Mark Whatley, of Burns Commercial Properties, was the broker for the sale of the Goodyear building to IRG, and said Scotts was looking at buying the entire property from Goodyear to open three plants there before IRG purchased it.
Then Scotts decided to open one plant and lease a portion of the building from IRG, but ultimately opted to buy it, he added.
The Tyler plant will be similar to Scotts' Huntsville plant, which started small and grew in production. Whatley said the same thing is expected to happen for the company in Tyler.
There were plenty of opportunities for Scotts to pull out of the deal, but the company stuck with its plan to come to Tyler and jumped through hoops to make the deal happen, he said.
“We're excited to have them” Whatley said. “They'll be bringing in manufacturing jobs.”
Based in Marysville, Ohio, Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. is the world's largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products, Michalovich said. Scotts was founded in 1868 by Civil War veteran Orlando McLean Scott. The company began as a premium seed company for the U.S. agricultural industry. In the early 1900s, the company added a lawn grass seed business for homeowners. In 1995, Scotts, the leading lawn care brand, merged with Miracle-Gro, the leading gardening brand, to create The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., he said.
Whatley said IRG looked at the property before Goodyear closed.
Goodyear began closing the manufacturing plant in 2008, and when the building went on the market in April 2009, the company was still in the process of shutting down small operations being done there, he said.
Whatley said the west side of the property, which has about 200,000 to 300,000 square feet and about 90 acres left available for lease, can be parceled in a number of ways for new businesses. He said IRG is still doing demolition on the building and once that is completed, they will put a plan together to market the remaining property.
“The building has great power; it has wonderful infrastructure; there's a lot of land,” Lichter said. “It's a great manufacturing building, and parts of it are a great warehouse building. So there isn't much that could not fit into it.”
For the past 35 years, IRG, based in Los Angeles, has specialized in taking over big, closed corporate and governmental facilities. IRG is a privately held investment firm specializing in the acquisition, management, development and adaptive reuse of commercial real estate across the country.
The tire manufacturing building was built in the early 1960s and was Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. before becoming Goodyear, Whatley said. The building was continually added onto and more land acquired into the 1980s, making the property the massive size it is today. At the height of its operations, Goodyear had about 1,500 employees, Whatley said.