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Milling business to occupy former SMI plant in park

Holmes Morel came to Brookhaven to pick up a single piece ofequipment and be on his way back to Arkansas, but he ended upbuying a whole factory.

The good news for Lincoln County is now he needs some people towork there.

Morel, the owner of M and M Milling, explained his plan torealign and reopen the former Specialty Minerals Inc. plant in theBrookhaven Industrial Park Monday while meeting with the IndustrialDevelopment Foundation. IDF members hailed his acquisition of thefacility as the latest in a recent string of economic developmenttriumphs for Lincoln County.

Morel still doesn’t know what he’ll call the place – maybe theOle Brook Mill, maybe M and M Milling of Brookhaven – but he doesknow he’s going to spend more than $2 million to buy the 60,000square-foot plant on 15 acres, bring it up to speed after atwo-year closure and begin hiring workers immediately.

“We’ve already started interviewing people here, and we thinkwe’ll hire five or six in the next week,” he said. “We’re going tospend probably the next six months getting it cleaned up andready.

“From that point, it depends on how things come out with someclients we’re talking to,” he continued. “If it turns out right, wemight hire 30 people and work 24 hours right off the bat.”

The clients Morel’s company is talking to already have plenty ofraw product, but they need M and M Milling to refine it down tosize.

The company grinds, reduces and otherwise processes various dry,biodegradable materials into usable formats for its clients andships the end product back through its own trucking company.Materials like soda ash, lignite, wood and agricultural products gointo the mill, and various fillers, bonding agents, powders andpellets come out.

M and M Milling regularly refines such products for the oilfield, paper, plywood, landscaping and other industries, with aclient list that stretches from American to Europe to China. Suchdiversity has kept the company alive and well through the economicrecession.

In fact, Morel’s company has hit a growth spurt. On top of thethree plants it operates at home base in Texarkana, Ark., thecompany jointly operates plants in California and Oklahoma, isbuilding a new facility in Kentucky and just acquired its seventhoperation in Homeseekers Paradise.

Morel said plans call for growing the Brookhaven locationfollowing the same format as his Arkansas plants, which employ anaverage of 50 people.

“We’ve been growing every since we started,” Morel said. “Ourindustry has grown 10 times over the past eight years. Our peopledo a very good job at what we do, and we do good service.”

M and M Milling is a house built upon the rock. It’s a perfectaddition to Lincoln County’s industrial community and a positivesign the global recession may be wrapping up, saidBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield.

“A few losses we saw in this community are being replaced withstronger wins,” he said. “This is a company we’ve worked with for anumber of months, and we feel this will be a great addition to ourcommunity.”

Applications for work at M and M Milling are being taken at thelocal employment security office at 545 Brookway Boulevard. Also,Morel said interested applicants may simply stop by the facility onFender Trail in the industrial park if the gate is open.