Business Oregon backs "Built To Last" company's rapid growth in Prineville

The oil and gas exploration boom in North America has helped a Prineville firm experience astronomic growth and create dozens of jobs in Central Oregon.

Business Oregon helped back BTL Sales, Inc. (BTL) rapid growth in early 2013 by providing a $500,000 loan guarantee to Columbia State Bank supporting the modification of BTL's commercial real estate debt. BTL estimates that this will to help it add five new employees. The loan guarantee came from Business Oregon's Credit Enhancement Fund (CEF) program and utilized federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funds received by the state beginning in 2011.

Oregon received $16.5 million in SSBCI funding in late 2011 from the U.S. Treasury. The funding, from the U.S. Treasury's State Small Business Credit Initiative is expected to generate lending up to 10 times the amount received—or an estimated $165 million over the next four years through existing Business Oregon financing programs.

BTL proudly sells its "Built To Last" industrial-grade liners and containment systems for application to ponds, pits and lagoons operated by oil and gas and mining interests as well as golf course owners and eco landfill operators. At their Prineville manufacturing facility, BTL can produce liners up to 70,000 square feet in size. Their products are highly puncture resistant and resist damage from UV and chemical exposures.

The company pioneered the development of their exclusive, reinforced polyethylene products three decades ago, BTL has been the industry recognized leader in RPE liners, with sales volumes approaching 50,000,000 square feet annually. However, the company, which began operations in 1981 as Bend Tarp & Liner and worked primarily with golf courses, had to re-invent itself around 2007 in order to tap into new markets.

"With new fracking technology, we saw a need for containment liners for areas as big as five square acres," Senior Vice President Michael Baron told the Cascade Business News in 2013. "Each well location requires up to four million gallons per site to complete the process. We have several clients from Montana to Pennsylvania who developed large above-ground cylindrical tanks that we line to provide the water, another great application for our liners."

BTL also makes an insulated floating cover that rests on top of the water to prevent freezing. Water must be heated to about 80 degrees for the fracking and it can't freeze in colder climates. In summer, regular evaporation occurs and they provide an evaporative solar cap too.

As a result of this successful diversification, the company has expanded rapidly. It currently employs 35 workers and has grown from a 4,000-square-foot facility in the early 1990?s, to their current home office in Prineville, a state-of-the art, 84,000-square-foot welding and fabrication facility and corporate headquarters near the new Apple and Facebook data centers.

"Six years ago we stepped up and sold the building in Bend to build the new plant," Baron said. "We've seen gross revenues show a steady uptick every year since the recession. We take it day by day, but there are always issues. It's an Oregon product and the raw materials are manufactured here in North America and we're very proud of that."