New lumber export company to locate in Suffolk

Published 6:53 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2021

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A new lumber export company will invest $1.1 million to develop a new location for its operations in Suffolk.

Kristi Corporation, a global supplier of industrial raw material for aluminum and steel metallurgical industries, will locate a new log load and fumigation facility at 1326 Portsmouth Blvd. and plans to source all of its exports from Virginia loggers.

The property is listed at 16.19 acres, according to online city real estate assessment records, and owned by B&B Enterprises of Suffolk, Inc. Kristi has been leasing the property for several months, according to Interim Economic Development Director Gregory Byrd, and it is expected to buy at least a portion of it in the next year. He said Kristi does plan to build a structure for its operations, but did not know what it would look like.

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“While they plan an investment that includes the construction/upfit of the building — that is their words,” Byrd said, “… the details of that haven’t been provided yet, and it might be a function of just how the business goes. They’ve got the luxury of a lease that allows them to test the waters as they move forward.”

Byrd said the site currently is “fairly undeveloped” and behind the treeline off of Portsmouth Boulevard and not easily viewable by the public. Kristi, he said, had been looking for a site “for a while,” making a recent decision to move forward with the site in Suffolk.

Virginia competed with sites in North Carolina and Pennsylvania for the project, and it is expected to bring 10 jobs to the city.

“Once again, the world-class Port of Virginia and our skilled workforce enabled our Commonwealth to successfully compete for this new lumber exporting facility,” said Gov. Ralph Northam in a statement. “This project will benefit both the local economy and our forestry industry, and we look forward to partnering with Kristi Corporation as it grows in Suffolk.”

Kristi was founded as a small scrap metal trading company in 2005 and is headquartered in Piscataway, N.J. It now has branches in Canada and India, and it also has global representatives.

Founded in 2005 and headquartered in Piscataway, N.J., Kristi Corporation started as a small scrap metal trading company that now has branches in Canada and India, along with representatives located across the globe. Kristi also exports logs, lumber and biomass from North America to countries around the world.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the city, the Port of Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Forestry to help bring the project to the state and city. The VEDP will support the company’s job creation through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“We were pleased to find a business-friendly atmosphere in Virginia and great support from the Virginia Department of Forestry for our project,” said Kristi CEO Jeyapal Babu in a statement. “Access to a world-class port system and employees trained in heavy machinery operation were also big factors in determining this new venture.”

Byrd said that as Kristi moves into the building process, the city would support the business in whatever way it needs and would facilitate the permit process for the company.

“The real incentive, really, is helping them regarding the workforce that they’re going to need and any assistance in that regard,” Byrd said.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball touted the city’s proximity to the port, interstates and rail lines, along with the state’s supply of raw material and logistics as factors that helped sway Kristi to Virginia.

Forestry is part of Virginia’s third-largest industry along with agriculture and fishing.

“Kristi Corporation’s strategic decision to locate its newest operation in Suffolk holds benefits for the company, the economies of Virginia, the city of Suffolk, and The Port of Virginia,” said Virginia Port Authority CEO and Executive Director Stephen Edwards in a statement. “The port will be Kristi Corp’s international trade gateway, and we are ready to collaborate to leverage the world-class efficiency being generated at this 21st-century port.”
Mayor Mike Duman noted the jobs the forest products industry has provided the region for years, while Del. Clinton Jenkins called the company “a welcome addition” to the city.

“The company’s contributions, along with bringing new jobs to Suffolk, will enhance our economy,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Suffolk has the workforce, job training programs, schools and other services necessary to meet employers’ demands.”