As of Friday afternoon, an industrial building that sat vacant on the corner of Lumpkin Campground, Grizzle and Industrial Park roads for three years has found new owners and a new life.
The family-owned electronic recycling company Premier Surplus is bringing its business to Dawsonville, and now occupies the warehouses that used to belong to the adhesive dispensing equipment manufacturing company Nordson.
Phillip Kennedy, the president and founder of Premier Surplus, said that the building is everything his company needs to be successful.
"It's all concrete and asphalt, it's very well built and maintained and it's completely access controlled- there is not only barbed wire but the building is cut up in three sections for security," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said he will be adding his own security cameras, and is excited about how good of a deal the space is. The last time the building was sold, in 2005, it went for $6 million.
"They didn't cut any corners when they built it. To build this building like it is, with all of these features, would cost over $11 million today," Kennedy said. "There's no way we could have ever afforded it."
That doesn't mean though that the property doesn't need any work. Along with being incredibly energy-inefficient, it is also quite old. The site was built in three phases, the first in 1993, second in 1998 and third in 2001.
"It's been maintained really well though," Kennedy said. "The roof is in good shape, everything is in good shape."
It just needs a little fine-tuning to make the building workable for his business.
"The bones are all here, we're just going to retrofit what we need," Kennedy said.
Indeed, Monday morning, Kennedy, his father and their crew were already hard at work getting the building up to speed with modern technology. Old fluorescent bulbs were being swapped for energy-efficient LED lights, and Kennedy is working on getting the extensive air conditioning that was required by the high temperatures in the factory during Nordson's heyday down to a level that makes sense for the work Premier Surplus does.
Some things will stay the same, like the "presidential" blue carpet that covers the upstairs office floor.
"It's in such good shape, we're just going to leave it," Kennedy said. "But we're going to take out the carpet downstairs and stain the cement."
Kennedy has 62 employees, and his wife of 12 years, Stephanie, is the CFO. The company was born out of Kennedy's one-car garage in 2011, and has since upsized to a house, a 20,000 square foot facility and a 47,500 square foot warehouse in Ball Ground.
The new property, which sits at 12 Nordson Dr., is more than 125,000 square feet and is on 10.7 acres of land.
The company receives an average of four semi-trucks and five box trucks of material each day, and processes about 1.2 to 1.4 million pounds of recycled electronics each month.
The company works to keep electronic waste out of landfills.
What Kennedy says help set his business apart from other electronic recyclers is his ability to now keep everything indoors, a complete one-stop-shop for recycling. Their logistics, asset management, shredding and dismantling capabilities help them compete with larger companies.
"Where we really shine is we have a great reverse logistics and rebate program," Kennedy said. "If you're producing good stuff, you'll get money back."
One thing that Premier Surplus isn't is a local drop-off for old computers, tvs and printers.
The company works with large producers of e-waste, like hospitals, large government agencies, school systems, Fortune 500 companies and other manufacturing companies. They take old technology and either disassemble, refurbish or shred it.
"In an age of internet hacks and cyber security, our biggest priority is to ensure that our customers' data is being protected," Kennedy said. "We also try to return as much value to the customer as possible."
Getting the building occupied has long been a joint effort between the Development Authority of Dawson County, the Nordson Corporation and agents. One of the few light industrial buildings in Dawson County, having the building sit empty didn't sit well with Development Authority Executive Director Charlie Auvermann.
"I'm extremely pleased and happy to have it done, but also really relieved," Auvermann said of learning that the property had at last found new owners. "We've had around 18 different people look at it over the past two years, and a lot of teamwork went into getting it done."
District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said he is glad to see the Nordson building occupied, and that he thinks Premier Surplus is a great addition to Dawson County.
"I think they'll be very low impact on services," Gaines said. "They will bring 62 jobs to the county, new faces and an employer that really cares about his employees, the community he has moved to and the environment."
Gaines said that the business is the kind Dawson should be looking to attract.
"We need to diversify the types of business we have in the county, we have a great retail base that gives us a lot in sales tax, but we need more light industrial businesses, which bring good paying jobs to the area," Gaines said.
Kennedy said that he is happy to call Dawsonville the business's new home, even though he has to drive 30 minutes from his home in Canton to get here.
"We're pumped to be here, everyone has been so friendly and welcoming," Kennedy said.