PTC company pioneered business here

Thu, 09/07/2006 - 3:45pm
By: John Munford

PTC company pioneered business here

Norman “Zeke” Paschall remembers coming to visit Peachtree City in 1961 when there were only a few houses and a frozen foods plant.

The parcel of land he was being shown was off a dirt road. He noticed a nearby home on a knoll with curious onlookers “poking their heads out the window” when cars pulled onto the property.

Soon enough, Paschall found out why. At the rear of the property was a still used for making moonshine.

“They thought we were revenuers,” Paschall remembered, referring to law enforcement that would hunt down producers of illegal alcohol.

So yes, the Normal W. Paschall Company was a Peachtree City pioneer in every sense of the word. It is the longest-operating company in Peachtree City, recently celebrating is 60th anniversary which includes several years at a location in East Point and more in Atlanta.

The company began translating byproducts from textile mills into material that could be sold on the market. But the company has had to adapt its mission, particularly in recent years as nearby mills have moved out of the United States. In West Point, Alabama, many mills that supplied Paschall with material have closed, relocating elsewhere where labor was cheaper.

“It used to be the biggest industry in the southeast,” Paschall noted.

Now, the company processes byproduct from cotton gins called “motes” and bales it into a cleaner fiber that sells on the open market. Paschall has even found a market to sell the far dirtier byproduct from the motes.

“We sell it for cattle feed,” he said. “They love it. It’s cellulose.”

Other byproducts produced by Paschall’s company are sold to the paper mill that produces currency for the U.S. Government, he said.

Other byproducts such as used carpet padding are being refined into a material that can be used under the top layer of a horse racing track, softening the blow on horses’ hooves and preventing injury, Paschall said.

Yet another developing process at Paschall involves the retooling of furniture padding that is made into material that be used for soundproofing in automobiles.

One of the company’s biggest markets for all this recycled and retooled material is overseas: China.

“Aw, the Chinese will buy anything that you’ve got,” Paschall said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is losing its industrial edge, Paschall said, worrying what might happen if the country had to revert back to the scheme in World War II when factories were retooled to produce tanks, weapons and artillery. Paschall himself served in the Air Force in WWII and he vividly remembers the depression.

Paschall employs 125 employees now, up from about 50 to 60 when the company first moved to Peachtree City. The company is located at the end of Paschall Road on the northern tip of the industrial park, near the southern end of Huddleston Road.

As for the company’s success, Paschall is quick to point to the dedication of his employees.

“A boss is no better than the personnel,” Paschall said. “And I’ve got some very good personnel.”

Those who have been on board for 20 years are more are commemorated with their photo on a wall in an area Paschall calls “The Rogues’ Gallery.”

He points affectionately to the photos, recalling how the employees served with pride ... and how some of them have up and retired on Paschall, who himself is 86.

Then he talks about Oneida, who was the company’s first chef. Without any place to eat in Peachtree City, Paschall figured his workers needed a place to grab lunch.

But Oneida’s cooking was so good that it attracted traveling salesmen around lunchtime who normally did business with the company, Paschall remembered.

“There was always a little discussion about which of her desserts was the best,” Paschall remembered. “We finally decided that the best one was the one she baked today.”

Paschall’s office is chock-full of momentos of a life well-lived. There are photos with politicians, citations for his varied community service and a picture of his favorite golfer, Arnold Palmer. Then there’s the large stuffed Marlin that takes up half of the wall, reminding him of the time when he and a pal decided to brave the impending bad weather on the Florida coast.

They knew there would be fewer boats out there, and less competition for the big catch, Paschall said. The waters were rough, but Paschall and his friend survived and brought back a plenty decent catch.

“We caught 12 sail fish,” Paschall remembered. “We quit because we were so tired. ... We had a lot of fun.”

Like that fishing trip, Paschall’s company has been able to brave the rough seas of a burgeoning “global economy.” When the textile mills dried up, the company figured out a way to stay in business and even grow, Paschall said.

“We didn’t want to quit. We wanted to keep going and the only way to do that is to find something else to handle,” Paschall said.

“... The beauty of it is, there’s never an end to raw material.”

He recently hired an operative who works part-time here and the rest of the time in Spain, creating more contacts and contracts for the company to handle more fibers and byproducts.

Not bad for a business that Paschall basically started out of spite, when a former boss derided him, convincing him to quit. Paschall convinced his wife Bobbie they should strike out on their own with about $300 of their own money, which was quite a lot back then.

The rest, almost all of it anyway, is Peachtree City history.

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