News- SRS Purchases New Facility in Ventura, CA

Solarsilicon Recycling Services to expand workforce By Michele Willer-Allred

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Solarsilicon Recycling Services LLC will expand its workforce by about 30 percent when the company moves later this spring from its Camarillo plant to a larger facility in Ventura.

SRS, which recycles unusable and off-spec silicon and processes it into usable feedstock for the solar industry, recently acquired a 90,000-square-foot industrial building at 2433 Eastman Ave. for $6.3 million.

SRS is hiring an additional 20 to 30 new workers with the move, and is investing $3 million to $5 million in new equipment that will enable the company to clean silicon to semiconductor standards and open up a new channel of distribution for its products.

“We are excited about our move to Ventura. We wanted to stay in Southern California and city officials there made it easy with the transition,” said Robert Bushman, SRS founder and CEO.

SRS is one of five companies that were negotiating for the property.

The seller, Art Dreams Inc. will lease back a portion of the building and was represented by DAUM Commercial Real Estate Services.

Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura, Inc., represented SRS in the transaction.

Mike Tingus, president of Lee & Associates, said that Bushman was his first client when Tingus began in the commercial real estate business more than 20 years ago.

SRS began when Bushman was co-owner of a scrap metal company, and got the idea for SRS when he noticed a customer was throwing away silicon.

Bushman began experimenting with processes to clean and reuse silicon and founded SRS in 1996.

The company had 50 employees by 2006, when he sold it to Ersol, later acquired by global technology conglomerate Bosch.

In March 2010, Bushman, along with SRS President Eric Baldwin, bought the company back.

“Our business is heavily influenced by the price of polysilicon on the commodities market, and it requires an entrepreneurial approach,” Bushman said.

“We saw that under its former ownership the company was not able to adapt to market fluctuations as quickly as needed, and we were concerned about the future for the business and our employees, so we bought it back,” he said.

Since March, the company has grown from 43 employees to 70.

Bushman said it has also has been operating its 20,000-square-foot Camarillo facility on a 24-hour, six-day-a-week schedule to meet the demand for its products since September.

“We ran out of room. We ran out of power and we ran out of parking,” Bushman said.

Bushman said that more room in the new 13,000-square-foot, two-story facility and the ability to hire more employees to do everything from administrative to labor work allows the company to have a shorter work shift than it currently operates.

Bushman said the facility also gives the company the ability to upgrade its processes and sell in a much larger market. He said the company has begun development on another process for cleaning silicon, but wouldn’t discuss it because it’s proprietary information.

He said the company will begin operations in its new Ventura facility in May, but will run both the new facility and the Camarillo plant until the end of the year.

He said once the Ventura facility is operational, it will become a flagship for the company’s expansion throughout the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and Europe.

“We deal with most of the major solar manufacturers and polysilicon manufacturers and we have zero customers in California,” Bushman said. “But I didn’t want to leave, so I figured I’d bite the bullet and invest right here.”

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