BYK breaks ground for $50 million expansion


GONZALES — On Thursday, April 5 history was made in Gonzales, Texas.

On that day, BYK Additives and Instruments broke ground on a $50 million expansion project at its Gonzales manufacturing facility, making it the largest investment project in the last half century in the city of Gonzales. The city was competing on a global basis for the project, as BYK was also considering opportunities in Kentucky, China and Germany.

“I think it means so much to our local economic environment,” Gonzales Mayor Connie Kacir said. “This helps protects our future business climate and will also help us be more active in the procurement of new businesses. This helps protect our tax base and area jobs, but it also tells the world that Gonzales is open for business.”

Jon Such, who has worked for BYK for the past 38 years, echoed the mayor’s enthusiasm for the project.

“It definitely solidifies Gonzales’ position economically for the future,” Such said. “It protects this facility for the future, the jobs here, and is a significant sign that Gonzales is serious about retaining and bringing manufacturing to the area. I couldn’t be happier that the international headquarters picked Gonzales for this exciting new investment and expansion. Not only does it help retain jobs, but it should help Victoria College recruit additional students for training programs we will need and the local Independent School System.”

Over 180 contractors and subcontractors are expected to be moving to Gonzales during the construction phase of the expansion, bringing hundreds of employees into the area.

“One of the most exciting things about all of this is all of the workers who will be coming to Gonzales for this project,” Kacir said. “It will help our hotels, restaurants, stores and so many different businesses. Plus, you never know who may just want to move here or locate their business here. Gonzales has a great story to tell.”

According to Genora Young, the Executive Director of the Gonzales Economic Development Corporation, the project of landing a global opportunity took over a year to complete, but it was well worth the effort.

“I first found out about this in the fall of 2017,” Young said. “I immediately informed the city, and then starting reaching out to the other players who had to be involved with this—the hospital district, the ISD, the city, the county, the Governor’s Office—you name it.

“But what I was immediately impressed with was just how fast everyone rallied around this project and put forth a total and completely cooperative effort to get this project done. Even more impressive is that as we moved forward with our planning, there were no leaks of information or false disclosures. Everything was kept confidential, and I know that impressed BYK to see how hard and how quickly we came together, how professionally we did our due diligence, and how we kept everything they needed under lock and key. It was really impressive and gratifying to see.”

According to the entities involved, BYK had a list of requests they sent to the markets they were considering. In Gonzales County, everyone went to work in their specific areas of influence but immediately made it clear to BYK they wanted the project here and were working as hard and as fast as possible to show just how committed this area was to the project.

“We met so many times I lost count,” Mayor Kacir laughed. “And there was some real negotiating going on, but we all had on our eye on the prize. I think BYK was also very committed to giving this area a robust opportunity to present its case.’’

Such confirmed that sentiment.

“All of the entities involved were very forthcoming about what they could and could not do, but they kept coming back to the point that this is where the place to be is—Gonzales” Such said. “It made a difference at the International headquarters—they recognized how much Gonzales respected the company and the jobs and I think that helped carry the day. That, and the professional way in which they conducted themselves throughout the entire process.”

According to both Young and Kacir, there were lots of twists and turns while pursuing the project, but they both love recalling the story of how they found out that Gonzales had been chosen over China, Germany and Kentucky.

“The Mayor and I were at an economic development meeting together,” Young fondly recalled. “I was already seated in the auditorium and I saw Connie walking towards me and she just stopped dead in her tracks. I thought oh-oh. Then she motioned for me to follow her. ‘Meet me outside right now.’ I wasn’t sure what happened but I knew from the look on her face it was something important.”

Mayor Kacir takes it from here.

“I put the phone call on the speaker phone,” Kacir said. “Genora and I were both listening when the word came that an announcement was coming in the next 10 minutes, but they wanted to let us know in advance that we had been chosen.

“Well, I’m not sure how to politely say this but we were whooping it up pretty loud. I know people were looking at us—but this was huge news and a huge day.

“Well, after we got off the phone, an employee at the hotel came over and looked both of us in the eye. She said ‘I don’t know what that phone call was all about, but based on your reactions I think congratulations are in order.’”

That’s how the city found out that its combined year’s worth of work, effort and diligence had been rewarded.

The new facility is designed to increase the company’s capacities for key products in the rheology additive portfolio, specifically the GARAMITE product line. In addition, BYK intends to develop a new Research and Development Center to house the global competence center for natural rheology here.