PORT ANGELES — U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer took a look at some of the products the Composite Recycling Technology Center is working on during a tour of the nonprofit Tuesday.
Upon hearing the CRTC is researching using recycled scrap carbon fiber in cross-laminated timber, Kilmer suggested the nonprofit reach out to the American Plywood Association (APA).
“They are basically the wood products industry research arm,” the Gig Harbor Democrat told CRTC Chief Operating Officer David Walter, adding that APA is located in Tacoma.
Walter said the CRTC is working with cross-laminated timber manufacturer SmartLam, a company in Montana, to see how scrap carbon fiber could be used in cross-laminated timber (CLT).
The Port of Port Angeles has eyed the CRTC and a reason that could influence a CLT manufacturer to move to the Port Angeles area.
The last time Kilmer was at the CRTC was at the groundbreaking in 2015. Kilmer represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula.
The nonprofit moved in August 2016 and has created 12.5 jobs since then, Walter said.
Walter showed Kilmer a number of products the CRTC is developing, including park benches, hockey sticks, an industrial brace, an automobile seat back and pickleball paddles, the CRTC’s first product.
Walter said the paddles’ purpose were “proof of concept.”
“It got us into the market and showed the team how to scale up a product,” he said. “It was just a start and was never meant to carry the business.”
Walter asked Kilmer if his team could help “connect the dots” for the CRTC with its upcoming benches.
“I’m sure the government has some buys there,” Walter said. “We would certainly love the opportunity to bid on something like that.”
The benches are one of a handful of products the CRTC is currently developing to be launched in the coming months, about the same time funding from the Port of Port Angeles will end.
The CRTC’s Chief Executive Office Bob Larsen is set to retire at the end of the week to spend more time with family. Walter will take over. Both Larsen and Walter have said they are confident the CRTC will be successful.
The CRTC plans to double its staff from 17 to 34 by the end of 2018 to scale up its production.
In addition to creating family-wage jobs locally, the CRTC’s goal is to divert 2 million pounds of carbon fiber composites from landfills and recycle at least 1 million pounds of carbon fiber scrap per year by 2022.
Walter told Kilmer in the coming years the CRTC could expand and create another location somewhere in the U.S. or internationally, while keeping the nonprofit headquartered in Port Angeles.
“We would like all the jobs to be here in Port Angeles,” Kilmer said.
Walter emphasized to Kilmer that the CRTC is a “success story” that would not have been possible without the collaboration of federal, state and local governments and other agencies and its partnerships.
Kilmer asked if there’s anything with the CRTC making Walter lose sleep at night, to which Walter said the ability to scale up quickly has been a challenge.
He said he also has focused on having the right culture and the right team members for the CRTC, he said.
“It’s hard to get the right people,” Walter said.
Walter also asked Kilmer to continue to support the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
“The president’s budget proposed elimination of both,” Kilmer said. “We’re fighting that fight.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at email@example.com.