BY F.M. WIGGINS (STAFF WRITER)

Published: August 27, 2013

 

PRINCE GEORGE - A little more than a decade ago, three men came together with a dream for a business and worked hard at getting investors to back their idea.

Bill Robertson, current chair of the county Board of Supervisors, says he recalls coming to the original ground breaking for Service Center Metals, worried about how much debt the company had taken on.

Ten years on, Service Center Metals has grown and Monday officially broke ground on an expansion, which is already well under way, for a new compact remelt plant.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said that the expansion of Service Center Metals represents a $17 million investment. Bolling participated in the ground breaking ceremony and the 10th anniversary festivities at the business.

Bolling characterized the business as "a great example of an existing business" confident enough in the state's economy to grow. He added that it is especially important for businesses such as Service Center Metals to grow.

Service Center Metals has been in the same business for the past 10 years, taking aluminum logs, milling them to the specifications of service centers, businesses which resell the product to manufacturers. It's the only business to do just that, according to Joe Hollingsworth, owner and CEO of The Hollingsworth Companies and one of the initial investors in Service Center Metals.

Chip Dollins, Service Center Metals vice president of operations, said that with the company's latest expansion, the more than 84,000-square-foot compact remelt plant, the company will be able to use scrap from its own processes, combined with purchased scrap to provide 75 million pounds per year of aluminum to the extrusion facility. Since opening in 2003, the business has provided its customers with more than 635 million pounds of extrusions.

Hollingsworth said that means that employees must change dyes on the machines sometimes up to 130 times per day.

The end result is a plant that is faster than its competitors. Hollingsworth characterized the plant as having a world-record pace that can extrude aluminum to the demands of customers at a rate of up to 476,000 pounds in 24 hours.

Service Center Metals President Scott Kelley said that the company's success relies on hard work by the "producers - the guys that sweat and get dirty," adding that they do it better and safer than anyone else in the world.

Kelley said the company's 10th anniversary was an historic one for the county as well because the company had brought a Ferris wheel - originally built for the 1883 Chicago World's Fair as a symbol of hope and imagination during an economic depression - to the county for the first time to celebrate the dream of the factory of the future, Service Center Metals.

- F.M. Wiggins may be reached at 732-3456, ext. 3254 or fwiggins@progress-index.com.