PolyTech Fibers LLC is a minority- and employee-owned manufacturer of recycled polyester staple fiber. Launched in Chatsworth in 2014, it runs three production lines in three plants and employs more than 100 local residents. Its historical revenue growth is more than 10 percent annually.
Polytech is an economic development success and a beacon of sustainability, producing 54 million pounds of fiber transferred from recyclers that clean, wash, and grind municipal collections of recyclable plastics. Its product serves diverse industries, from automotive to luxury home furnishing producers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down nonessential businesses, COO Don Lee contacted UGA Small Business Development Center Consultant in Rome looking for solutions to keep PolyTech relevant. There, he was connected with consultant Nora Guzman.
“Our customers had to shut their mills down,” said Lee, “and demand was falling off the cliff. Nora suggested I pursue Department of Defense emergency needs – our fiber is used in filtration. Two new customers came through this channel. Her advice kept us running.”
Lee then began exploring the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which led him back to Guzman.
“The SBDC was the only one who knew anything helpful,” he said. “The banks I spoke with gave me no useful information and the online portals were difficult to navigate. Nora recommended I speak to my banker, and they set us up with their application.”
Guzman helped Lee compile information and do the calculations necessary to allow for maximum benefits. Lee finished the application on a Wednesday and sent it to Chase the next day.
“By Friday, the process was still stalled, so Nora called them to assist us in clarifying any confusion. The following Monday, we received the deposit. Chase called to say we were the fastest PPP loan they had processed for anyone.”
April and May were difficult for PolyTech, but by using the PPP and EIDL funds, the company was able to retain employees. It added 27 new employees upon its reopening, for a total of 107.
Guzman is now helping Lee with the PPP loan forgiveness process and providing him assistance in refinancing the company’s existing debt.
Lee compares his experience with the SBDC to the Cantillon effect. “Wherever the money trickles down to is where growth occurs. With Nora’s help, I was able to guide PolyTech through this effect and move my industry portfolio to where this money was flowing.”
Polytech Fibers was named the Murray Small Business of the Year in 2020 by the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce.