Bibb County flooring company expands into the retail end of business

An expansion plan at a south Bibb County company defies the current economy. BLC Hardwood Flooring, a division of Battle Lumber Co. on Industrial Highway, has opened a new retail center for its products and is in the middle of hiring in order to add another shift to its plant, said president Jason Delves.

“The good news of this bad economy is that people have really started focusing on doing business locally, and we’ve done that as well,” Delves said.

The company always has manufactured lumber into hardwood flooring.

“We do everything from bringing the logs in, cut the timber, dry the lumber and then process it into unfinished flooring that we then finish as well,” he said. The company’s sawmill is in Wadley. “We mill the flooring and finish the flooring in Macon.”

The company sells flooring to distributors throughout the U.S. and other countries who then sell it to retail stores.

Recently, the company received approval from Bibb County for a tax abatement schedule for the expansion, and it is set to go before the school board Dec. 10.

The tax incentive is fairly minor — about $22,000 over five years — but the company is making an investment of about $1.4 million, said Pat Topping, senior vice president of the Macon Economic Development Commission.

“(The company) will pay an additional $37,000 in property taxes over that same period,” Topping said.

The hardwood flooring showroom, at 7951 Industrial Highway, is open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays or by appointment, Delves said. Customers can design their own floors and the company will make then or customers can buy what is in stock.

“It’s really a different spin on the normal retail because of what we have literally behind the showroom is the ability to make the floor exactly as you want it,” he said.

As part of the tax incentive package, the company promised it would add a minimum of five new employees, and it is already ahead of that schedule.

“It’s hard to believe but we are actually hiring right now,” he said. “I’ve hired six-to-eight people in the last week and a half.”

The company has about 85 employees and is looking to add about 20, he said. Applications are accepted from 8 a.m.-noon Wednesdays. The type of jobs available range from material handlers and graders to machine operators and color technicians.

“It’s amazing,” Delves said. “But ever since word got out, we probably have 50 applications every Wednesday come in here.”

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.