Originally created 01/12/00

Work begins on factory



WAYNESBORO -- When Mayor Martin Dolin's daughter recently visited him and asked for a lint brush, he suggested that she come back in a few months.

Helmac -- a Michigan-based company that makes lint rollers, cedar storage items and rawhide chew toys for pets -- plans to open a 125,000-square-foot factory in Waynesboro in June.

It is also moving its corporate headquarters to the Atlanta area in August.

A jubilant crowd gathered Tuesday to celebrate the construction.

"It is a good morning for Waynesboro," Mr. Dolin told the crowd.

The nearly $10 million factory will be located in the Waynesboro Industrial Park, near Ritz Instrument Transformers. Land where it will go already had been graded.

The company initially will employ about 150. Hiring is scheduled to begin in May and will be through the state Labor Department. The new jobs could push Burke County's unemployment rate down to about 3 percent, Labor Department officials say. The county's unemployment rate was in double digits for many months.

Nick McKay Jr., Helmac's 31-year-old chief executive officer, said the company selected Waynesboro because of the genuine commitment the residents showed toward making the project work.

"We're excited to be here," he said.

Helmac plans to relocate its four Flint, Mich., plants to Waynesboro. As many as 300 workers could be hired in the next two years, Mr. McKay said. The company is locating its corporate headquarters near Atlanta instead of Waynesboro to be close to a regional airport.

Helmac was founded in 1956 by Mr. McKay's father, Nick McKay Sr. The name comes from a combination of the first and last name of the senior McKay's wife, Helen McKay.

Reach Frank Witsil at (706) 823-3352.



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