With the grand opening of its plant in Baxter, Tennessee, roughly one year away, Portobello America and its customers are gearing up for USA-made tile supply.
“The fact that Portobello America’s new factory will be just 2.5 hours in driving miles from our headquarters and also located dead center in the footprint of all of our 12 locations will be a huge plus for Louisville Tile,” said Don Kincaid, vice president of sales, Louisville Tile. “This close proximity will offer us both products made in America, plus those sourced and inventoried from Brazil, with quick turnaround. Ultimately, we’ll be able to service our clientele even better due to this.”
Kincaid said it's the distributor's third year working with Portobello America, and the relationship is going well. "From the get-go, we were intrigued by the quality and industry knowledge of their people," he said. "We believe having top professional suppliers offering state-of-the-art materials makes for a great equation."
Logistically, Baxter, Tennessee, is advantageous to about 80% of the U.S. population related to transit time and mileage to customers, according to James (Jed) Durbin, vice president of manufacturing and outsourcing, Portobello America. "Baxter is also centrally located to where top-grade raw materials required for our production process can easily be sourced and procured," Durbin said. "Also, the tile industry is growing exponentially with relation to supporting American manufacturers.”
Portobello America has allocated a major percentage of its planned overall startup costs to purchase the latest technology, tile manufacturing equipment. This will include inkjet printing, tile firing, material recycling, polishing and sorting and pressing machinery. Portobello’s new plant is also planned to be very green.
“We are extremely fortunate to enter the market at this point in time, as it offers us the very latest technologies for environmental responsibility for today and tomorrow’s tile manufacturing processes,” Durbin said. “This includes efficiency in electricity, natural gas and water consumption. All of this combined with the unmatched sustainability of porcelain tile will make our position of being environmentally responsible one of the best.”
Durbin went on to state that on day one of the plant being staffed and fully operational, roughly 95% of its employee workforce will consist of those from Baxter and surrounding localities.
“We are fortunate to have the State of Tennessee to offer resources in training," Durbin said. "We also will have our parent company, Portobello Group in Brazil, to provide the resources to assist in this training. Lastly, we will be having technical representatives from the equipment manufacturers right onsite, to assist in extensive employee training... preparing them to be ready for the factory startup.”
This excitement will grow and Portobello America will continue to keep its current and future customers aware of the new factory’s progress.
“We obviously are already involved with the stateside tile industry. That’s one major reason that via our new factory, we are excited to further our relationships not only with distribution, but also with professional tile installers, the A&D community and anyone else who wants to take part in bolstering the consumption of ceramic tile products in the United States,” Durbin concluded.