WENATCHEE — The apple capital could also soon become the green egg carton capital of the state.
The Port of Chelan County commissioners approved a five-year lease today with Kaite Group Co. Ltd., a multi-national company that plans to install equipment to make biodegradable molded paper pulp cartons for the egg and food industry here in Wenatchee.
The company will begin preparation work this week in a 38,000-square-foot building owned by the port district on Olds Station Road. Equipment installation is scheduled to begin in January, with full operation by March, said Mark Urdahl, port executive director.
Urdahl said the company plans to initially hire 30 employees, with plans to gradually increase to 50 employees.
“This is good news. Our highest priority in this economy is to bring jobs to the county,” he said. Port commissioners unanimously approved the agreement that will lease the port’s Industrial Building #5 to Kaite Group for 60 months. The company won’t have to pay during plant set-up and the first few months of operation, Urdahl said. Beginning in May, the company will pay $18,666 a month rent.
Based in Hong Kong, the Kaite Group is a leading pulp and molded fiber packaging company with several production plants throughout the world. Paper products are sold throughout the United States, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Southeast Asia. The Wenatchee plant will be designed to duplicate a Kaite Group plant that recently opened in Malaysia, said Aimee Pope, port marketing and communications manager. The process uses advanced technology to make cartons from recycled paper and orchard wood debris. Pope said the company has been negotiating with Wilcox Farms among others to supply their cartons. Wilcox Farms is one of the Northwest’s largest organic egg producers.
“We’re very happy to have them here,” said Craig Larsen, port commissioner. Larsen said the “green” technology used by the company is a plus.
Discussions leading to the company coming to Wenatchee have been ongoing for the past few years, Larsen said. Initial contact was made by then-port employee Ron Rodriguez in southern California, where Kaite Group also has a plant. The company wanted to open a plant in Washington and originally was looking at Moses Lake, he said.
The port building was previously occupied by JanSport outdoor gear. Accupak and Loomis Golf were also previous tenants. It’s been used in recent months as office space for M&M Productions and as practice space for the Apple Valley Roller Derby teams. Both of those tenants will be looking for new space to lease, Urdahl said.
Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151