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ELK on its way
Local distribution center moves toward product capacity, employee projection
Sylvania has a distribution center with potential for growth.
A grand opening on Thursday offered the local community and dignitaries statewide see first-hand the work that has been completed at the ELK Group International facility in the former Sylvania Yarn Systems plant.
When SYS closed its doors at the end of 2009, the older facility sat vacant and became considered a relic to the past.
That was until February of this year when the Georgia Department of Economic Development announced that ELK Group International, a designer and importer of indoor and outdoor, residential and commercial lighting fixtures and home decor, planned to create more than 100 jobs and invest $2 million in a distribution center in Screven County.
Todd Webb, COO of ELK Group International, informed a group seated in chairs on a pleasant outdoors morning that the 422,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is approximately 70 percent filled with boxes of products. Currently, 40 are employed at the facility as more items from its Memphis site are relocated to Sylvania. A consumer service department and job openings also are part of ELK’s future.
“The ELK Group has made a great investment in the community and the state,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson, who were among the officials to tour the facility after the ceremony. “What it comes down to is the people. The people of this county and this city have worked hard to bring in jobs.”
Locally, the city and county governments worked with the Screven County Development Authority as ELK chose Sylvania as its home.
This facility is planned to create new employment opportunities over the next three years to include positions in office and warehouse operations. The Sylvania distribution center will be ELK’s seventh U.S. location.
“There is a tremendous passion and tremendous pride in this community,” said Webb, noting that the structure would need repairs but it has “good bones. “We saw a diamond in the rough. The communications we had about this facility was great from one day.”
Webb said he first met Dorie Bacon, the executive director of the Screven County Development Authority. He said Bacon initially emailed him on July 28, 2016, about the “the good, the bad and the ugly” about the site.
“We heard the ugly and we didn’t run away,” Webb said with a laugh. “The people here have a ‘can-do’ attitude.”
ELK was founded in 1983 and imports lighting fixtures from China, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. Major customers include Home Depot, Lowes, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bealls, Kohls and Stein Mart.
Will Boyd, the Screven County Commission chairman, said he is pleased to see the building reopened for business.
“ELK has brought this building back and is poised to move into the future,” Boyd said. “We look forward to working with you for many years to come.”
Sylvania City Council Mayor Pro Tem Tripp Sheppard welcomed ELK to the community.
“Thank you so much for choosing this community and this facility,” Sheppard said. “This place had become a relic. I have ridden by and saw it, but I don’t know if I ever expected to see it used again.
“You have invested time and money into this project and we don’t take that lightly.”
State House Majority Leader Jon Burns described Thursday as a “great day” for the community.
“This is one the garden spots of the state,” Burns said. “This plant was so viable and a part of our economy. That part you can’t buy. We are glad it is back in use again.”
Through their distribution network, ELK Group International functions as a single source provider for a variety of complimentary furnishing categories. Founded in 1983, the company distributes more than 20,000 products under the brand names of ELK Lighting, Dimond Lighting, Stein World, Dimond Home, GuildMaster, Sterling, Thomas Lighting, Lamp Works, Pomeroy, Mirror Masters, Ryvyr, and ELK Hospitality. Products are available through a network of fine lighting and furniture showrooms, electrical wholesale distributors, department stores and specialty home improvement centers throughout the world.