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Timeless Frames seeking $300,000 to launch new production line in August

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After making deals with a handful of retail giants in 2012 that included Wal-Mart, Timeless Frames has asked the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency for a $300,000 loan to help it launch a production line in August.

The JCIDA’s Loan Review Committee approved the loan request Tuesday for the company, which operates four buildings at the Jefferson County Corporate Park off Coffeen Street. The agency’s Board of Directors will have a final vote on the loan June 6.

As production increases, Mrs. Weber said, the company, which has 184 employees, could increase the size of its staff “somewhere between 200 and 230 employees in the next nine to 24 months.”

Instead of using wood, the new line will produce molding for picture frames with polystyrene, a strong plastic that is less expensive, said Timeless Frames Chief Executive Officer Lisa A. Weber. The polystyrene frames will complement moldings now made and designed from rough-cut lumber.

The cost of manufacturing picture frames has increased greatly in recent years, Mrs. Weber said. She said the decision to produce plastic frames was made for the company to be “competitive on all fronts.”

“There are very few manufacturers in the U.S., and most companies import their picture frames from China,” she said. “Most of the Chinese suppliers have gone to polystyrene molding, and that’s brought the cost down. We made the decision this year that we would include polystyrene, too, and it’s opened up some doors for us to sell products to more retailers.”

Timeless Frames, which includes sister companies Timeless Decor and Timeless Expressions, expanded its online presence in 2012 by adding its products on websites of numerous national retailers including Macy’s, Wal-Mart JC Penney, Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft, Wayfair and Amazon. A contract with Wal-Mart also made 12 of its products available in-store at 900 locations across the country.

“We’ve gotten the reputation of filling online orders, and we’re getting more and more bid opportunities now for in-store presentation,” Mrs. Weber said. “We were pleased to add Wal-Mart as a customer in 2012, and both of us see this as a growing relationship.”

Timeless is in the process of making another deal with Wal-Mart that would launch 12 additional products at all of its stores nationwide, Mrs. Weber said. Similar in-store deals are also being negotiated with Macy’s and Office Depot.

The $300,000 loan from the JCIDA is needed for the company to manufacture more frames to meet contract obligations with clients.

“We need to produce the product line, and we now need to procure the goods to make products before they roll out in stores; that’s about a four-month window,” Mrs. Weber said.

Timeless raked in nearly $19 million in sales in 2012 and now has about $800,000 of unfilled backlog orders. Donald C. Alexander, JCIDA chief executive officer, said the company needs extra working capital to manufacture products for those orders.

“They now have a number of different clients they’re working with, and there’s a certain period of time where the company makes a major investment up front but doesn’t see any revenue,” said Mr. Alexander, who recently met with Mrs. Weber to discuss the loan. “I think her problem may be that she’s expanding in so many ways now, but at the end of the day she needs to produce the product. Some outside help could help her a great deal, and if we’re going to put money on the table, I think we should be confident we’ll get it back.”

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