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Wind Turbine Parts Company Eyes Crozet for New Manufacturing Plant

Rich Pleasants

Rich Pleasants

Crozet is the frontrunner location for a new manufacturing plant that will produce a critical part for wind turbines with a new technology.

Richard L.C. Pleasants, Crozet resident and CEO of Pleasants Industries, said he is negotiating to purchase the triangular two-acre parcel owned by CSX in downtown Crozet that once was a rail spur into the Barnes Lumber Company. The spur was used into the 1980s but not since then, and the tracks have been removed. The parcel had road access by a grade-level track crossing, removed about 10 years ago, that connected to Rt. 240 roughly opposite the Crozet Great Valu. The parcel is appropriately zoned for the manufacturing use.

Pleasants owns a patented process that allows manufacture of parts on the site where they will be used. The plant will make a part needed in wind turbine manufacture.

Pleasant’s process means the part can be made where the turbines are being installed rather than built elsewhere and shipped to them. The process involves collapsible technology for tooling manufacture of wind turbine blades, he said.

Pleasants said his plant needs rail access for receiving raw materials and also will ship finished products by rail. The CSX parcel is on an unused third track through downtown that can serve as a siding for the plant.

Germany has begun a multi-year program to wean itself from nuclear and fossil fuel energy sources and is aggressively building wind turbines in its North Sea and Baltic Sea waters. Pleasants said that, for now, most of the plant’s products will be shipped to Europe.

Pleasants said the plant will not need truck access and he’s discussing the possibility of reopening the closed crossing with the railroad to allow access for employees. The alternative is to connect to Library Avenue.

The plant will strive to be off-the-grid, supplied mainly by solar power, Pleasants said, and will maintain utility connections only for back-up needs.  It will not be a heavy user of water or sewer services. He described the project as “well capitalized.”

Pleasants and his wife Holly and their young son relocated to Crozet this summer and they are in the process of building a house in the Mint Springs area. Pleasants said he has been investigating Crozet as a permanent home for three years.

He was raised in southern Maryland and maintains many contacts there. He said he is being courted by government officials there who are suggesting locations in Calvert or St. Mary’s Counties for the prospective plant. He has also met with Albemarle County and state economic development officials about the project.

Pleasants said he also has a future expansion interest in the former ACME Visible Records property east of downtown that is currently under an environmental remediation plan and recently had all its structures removed.

Pleasants said he prefers the possible Crozet locations because he does not want to have to manage the plant from a distance.

“We’re going to create good-paying, long-lasting jobs,” said Pleasants. “I want to create a benefit for the community.” He said those will include jobs for engineers as  well as less-skilled workers.

The project also envisions the creation of the Renewable Energy Academy of Virginia, which will offer training education for high school-aged students as well as community college credits. The academy will prepare students for jobs with the company or other renewable energy companies. “These are skills for 21st century jobs. They are the skills that we will be passing on by our children to our grandchildren,” said Pleasants.”

Pleasants said that if the plant is located in Crozet he expects it to attract four or five other companies with similar business plans that want the synergy of proximity to each other.

Pleasants said he has discussed the development of the former Barnes Lumber property with Frank Stoner of Milestone Partners, who alluded to Pleasants’ project in remarks to the Crozet Community Advisory Council at its August 14 meeting, but that he has no interest in acquiring or developing the former lumberyard.

“I’m in no way affiliated with Milestone Partners and I am not negotiating with Milestone over real estate. I have nothing to hide. I live here. I want to do the right thing by the town and be above-board.

“My actions will speak louder than my words,” he said. “I will be active in the community for the long haul. We are going to be here for the rest of our lives. I am a man of my word. We’re getting acclimated in Crozet and I’m more and more excited about it.”

Pleasants said his plant will not be especially large and will not be more than two stories tall. “The community will have significant input in the design,” he said. “In my opinion, the place for professional jobs is in downtown Crozet—and they will be able to walk to them. There should eventually be complimentary businesses to employ half of Crozet’s residents between the ages of 25 and 50.”

He said downtown will need to develop a variety of retail businesses, but that that sort of commerce should not be the primary goal of the town center.

Pleasants said his contacts with county officials have been encouraging. “I’m impressed by how the County has worked with me. They have been very supportive.”

Pleasants said he intends to be aggressive about setting up the academy and is looking for a western Albemarle location that may temporarily serve. He said he would like to begin construction of the manufacturing plant in early 2015, pending acquisition of a site.

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  1. Why are the only people you are talking about hiring are between 25 &
    50? A lot of people work to age 66 before they can retire . Do you think people over 50 can’t do a job? These days I can work a circle around most 25 year olds most of them don’t want to
    work just want a paycheck .

    • Just to clarify, our company, Pleasants Industries, will hire all the way up to age 66. It will based on experience, skills and job specific requirements. The intent of our staffing strategy is to provide local employment, so professionals in certain fields (engineering, operations, administration, IT, etc…) will not have to travel out of town to work. I am 47 myself, so I understand the value of older workers as well. :)

      • Dear Mr. Pleasants,
        I heard about your plans to open a new renewable energy company within the City of Waynesboro in our local newspaper, The News Virginian. First of all I would like to THANK YOU for your passion for in wind and solar energy. We have so many natural resources we should be using much more than we are, and wind & solar have yet to have that day of fame. I also would like to THANK YOU for choosing my home town of Waynesboro, VA., well I have lived here in Waynesboro for 31 years, I was raised in Crimora, VA., a small town 5 miles north of Waynesboro. I currently work PT for a 92 year old WWII Veteran. and have worked for him 8 years this year. His health is failing very quickly, and I have found myself looking at future employment opportunities. I would never totally leave him, but I am looking into possible job positions in the near future. Even working PT with my little man I could work PT into a future FT position. That is why I am contacting you today, I have background in industrial manufacturing, assembly, wiring tech, machine operator, also general office, office management, coordinator,transportation,and currently aide work. I would be interested the progress with your company and a possible opportunity to talk with you about a future position with your company. Mr. Pleasants thank you for taking time to read my letter. My e-mail address is sharond1@ntelos.net, I look forward to hearing back from you in the near future.
        Sharon M. Daniel

  2. Mr. Pleasants,

    I read (and archived) this article some months back because it piqued my interest. I would be very interested in speaking with you in greater detail about this potential opportunity in Crozet. What would be the best form of contact?

    Thank you,
    jmuglass at gmail dot com