The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news.
A new manufacturing venture that produces sports bottles from 100-percent recycled aluminum has begun operations in the Yakima Valley and will create nearly 20 new jobs this year. Liberty Bottleworks expects to deliver its first shipment of bottles in October and plans to make 300,000 by the end of the year, said Tim Andis, the company's founder. It has leased a 35,000-foot-building in Union Gap, Wash., just outside of Yakima, installed a manufacturing line and begun hiring workers.
"We've done something very unique and very special to create a bottle completely from recycled aluminum," Andis said. "We believe that most people want to do the right thing when it comes to helping each other, our environment and providing sustainable solutions." Liberty Bottleworks is the only U.S. producer of bottles made completely from recycled aluminum. It has deals in place with outdoor retailer REI and grocer Whole Foods to sell its bottles nationwide. The bottles come in 24 and 32 ounce sizes and will retail for $16 to $18.
Liberty Bottleworks will employ about a dozen people initially and grow to 18 by yearend, Andis said. Workers will be a mix of accounting, sales, marketing and shipping employees, and manufacturing technicians. Andis, who has worked in the outdoor industry for 20 years, praised the Yakima Valley business community for its support and encouragement. He moved to the area 14 years ago with his wife to be near her family and has been impressed by all the region has to offer.
Our office helped Andis secure tax credits for his company and provided advice and connections to potential sources of funding for the business. We have put a lot more focus on growing our own companies. Liberty Bottleworks is a great example of an emerging enterprise that has found a supportive Yakima Valley business community, bottom-line value and competitive advantages from lower business costs and work-ready employees.
Production has begun in limited quantities at Liberty Bottleworks and will ramp up over a couple months, Andis said. At full capacity, the company will make 1,200 bottles per hour. Using a deep-drawn aluminum manufacturing process, large coils of recycled aluminum are punched, trimmed with a neck and finished with a BPA-free, food-grade powder coat. The process leaves the bottle walls with a very consistent thickness that creates a stronger, more durable container.
Our organization is excited about Liberty Bottleworks and what they bring to our community as a manufacturer and employer. They are proof that the Yakima Valley is right place for businesses ready, willing and able to grow.