By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
BAXTER – T.W. Frierson is expanding its tile manufacturing portfolio with new facility for Portobello America, Inc. that recently broke ground in Baxter. The new facility will be Portobello’s first U.S. production facility and U.S. headquarters. The project announced in 2018, will expand the company’s operations in Tennessee with an investment of approximately $150 million. Nearly two years later, the 936,000 square foot facility is underway, and construction is expected to be complete in April 2023.
Portobello is the largest tile manufacturer in Brazil and serves countries on five continents and markets through multi-brand retailers, the Portobello Shop franchise and the sales channel for engineering. Portobello has more than 2,600 employees worldwide and is responsible for the design and innovation of items that launch trends in architecture and interior design in Brazil. The ceramic tile manufacturer will create 220 jobs in Putnam County.
“Growing and developing in the American market, incorporating the local culture, generating job opportunities and investments through an integrated business model, from production to partnership with distributors, is what guides this new challenge,” said Portobello President Cesar Gomes, Jr. “We are proud to present Portobello America. We believe in the strategy, the market potential and, above all, the combination of our know-how with the American team and culture.”
T.W. Frierson, an employee owned, Nashville based general contractor has partnered for the second time with Knoxville’s Design Innovation Architects (DIA) to deliver Portobello’s first American manufacturing plant. The team previously worked together on the American Wonder Porcelain tile production plant in Lebanon, which still represents the largest capital investment to date made by a Chinese-based company in the state of Tennessee’s history.
“T.W. Frierson is thrilled to assist domestic and international porcelain tile manufacturers with new investments in the Tennessee tile valley,” says Brent Edwards, Vice President of Business Development for T.W. Frierson. This is the fifth tile manufacturing facility constructed by T.W. Frierson, making them one of the most experienced contractors in the country on this type of project.
Portobello America’s new state-of-the-art tile manufacturing plant will be located on a 92-acre site on the south side of Interstate 40 in Putnam County at 8401 Ditty Road. The site was formerly known as the Tennessee Speedway Dirt Racetrack. The facility will span 936,000 square-feet, including 30,000 square-feet of office space, a showroom, research-and-development lab and production lines.
In a 2018 press release, former Gov. Bill Haslam said, “Portobello’s decision to locate its new production facility and U.S. headquarters and create more than 200 jobs in Baxter will be transformational for the community. In Tennessee, we have created a business-friendly environment that promotes growth in all of our communities across the state, and I appreciate Portobello for seeing what great assets Tennessee and Putnam County have to offer. I look forward to seeing this company succeed in our state and with investments like this, Tennessee will lead in the creation of high-quality jobs.”