In a show of support for local industry, directors of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority gathered Friday for their first off-site monthly meeting — at the Huber Engineering Woods facility in Crystal Hill.

“This is something we have wanted to do for a long time,” said IDA executive director Matt Leonard, “as we want to see more of what is going on in our community.”

Plant Manager Jeremy Catron welcomed the IDA contingent and thanked the group for helping to realign the local Enterprise Zone to now include Huber.

Mark Yates, comptroller for the company, said Huber has benefited from two of the incentives offered with the Enterprise Zone designation, — a refund of machinery and tools tax payments, and separate job creation incentives offered by the county.

The latter has resulted in the hiring of 17 new employees, bringing Huber’s employment up to 150. Proceeds from the machine and tool tax reduction have been reinvested in new equipment at the plant, said Yates.

Catron briefly reviewed the history of the company since Huber opened in Halifax County in late 1995. He said two IDA members, Nancy Pool and Ted Bennett, were among a group of business leaders who visited Huber’s facility in Athens, Ga., in the 1990s just prior to the company’s decision to locate in Halifax County. Huber was drawn to Halifax because of its abundant natural resources, with Catron calling the county a “true woodbasket.”

Yates said Huber strives to support sustainability by replanting cutover woodland areas, to insure that local forestry resources remain stable.

The local Huber plant produces specialized products mostly for residential construction, although it also has clients in industrial construction.

“We are a 24-hour operation,” Catron said. In addition to employing 150 people, with little turnover, Huber buys from 20 logging operations, getting wood from a 100-mile radius across Charlotte and Mecklenburg counties as well as in Halifax.

Huber has some contractors which he tries to hire locally as often as possible, he said.

Huber is a fifth generation company that traces its roots to back to 1883. In the early days, the family built an ink and dry colors business while holding onto strong ethical values, customer focus, family ownership and respect for people.

With five locations, Huber does business in mining, home building and food products in its various plants in Maine, Athens, Halifax County, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Catron is optimistic about the future of the local plant, which located on a 1,000 acre site in Crystal Hill. With residential building on the rise, Huber is moving past the housing downturn of 2007. The home building bust affected the company’s business, but he is very optimistic about a jump in housing markets over the coming year.

Leonard said the IDA is now looking forward to holding one of its meetings at the Southern Virginia Manufacturing Center, where the Tobacco Commission has awarded a lot of grant money for equipment there to make it ready for prospects.