This story was updated Sept. 12, 2018, at 7 p.m. with more information.
Stonepeak Ceramics, Inc., is investing $70 million to add a new production line at its plant in Crossville, Tennessee to begin production of the first large size porcelain panels made in the United States.
The expansion by Stonepeak Ceramics, a subsidiary of the Italian holding group Iris Ceramica, is adding 160 jobs to the 280-employee plant over the next five years and represents the biggest foreign direct investment in Cumberland County.
Stonepeak first opened its U.S. tile plant in Crossville in 2005 and, with the latest expansion, will have invested nearly $250 million to grow the plant to nearly 1.3 million square feet.
"The opening of the new production line represents an important investment for our company," Federica Minozzi, CEO of Iris Ceramica Group, said Wednesday during a ribbon-cutting for the new production line. "It is part of the strategic decision we made to mature as a global product supplier in this rapidly growing market segment. By offering large size panels, made in the U.S., we will shorten delivery times and simplify all of our logistics while reducing the environmental impact."
Equipped with the newest technological features, the line produces tiles ranging from 6 mm to 2 cm in thickness. It is the only production line in the world capable of producing porcelain tiles starting from the large size of 120"x 60" to the smaller size of 12"x12."
Kemp Harr, publisher of Floor Focus magazine, said the gauged porcelain products were first developed in Italy and their addition for Stonepeak in Crossville opens up a variety of new markets beyond flooring for the tile producer.
"With these larger porcelain panels, which are 25 percent stronger than granite, this opens new markets for these products for countertops, exterior building cladding and furniture capacity and other markets," he said. "This is a big deal."
The Stonepeak plant is across the street from one the nation's biggest ceramic tile production plans, Crossville Tile, which has made tiles for the past 32 years and has more than 400 employees.
Crossville is centrally located for shipments and is close to the key raw materials for the tiles, including feldspar and ballblay.
"This is great for Crossville and our economy," J. Bradley Allamong, president of the Crossville/Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday.
In a statement from his Nashville office, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said the plant expansion reflects the growing manufacturing employment in the Volunteer State.
"Tennessee is one of the top locations in the country for ceramics industry growth, and Stonepeak is continuing this momentum by creating more jobs in this fast-growing industry," Haslam said.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340.