Investor underwrites new Hebel autoclaved aerated concrete plant

Verte OZ Fund Inc., College Park, Md., has invested in Probitas Ventures LLC and its wholly owned subsidiary AAC East LLC, both of Bennettsville, S.C. Probitas Ventures is building an advanced production facility for autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) under licensing from Germany’s Xella GmbH, owner of the legacy Hebel AAC brand. The goal of the Verte OZ infusion is to complete plant construction, commission the operation and provide working capital during production ramp up. 

Lightweight and cuttable with conventional saws, AAC offers architects, real estate developers, and end users an energy-efficient, sound- and fire-resistant, load or non-load-bearing, cost-competitive and environmentally friendly material. Wall panels and floor planks cast from the fine aggregate material address increasingly stringent building codes, escalating lumber and steel costs, and growing demand for net-zero energy structures with reduced carbon footprint. The South Carolina plant will answer U.S. demand for AAC, which currently exceeds domestic supply capabilities. Beyond Xella, Probitas Ventures has strategic relationships with AAC plant equipment specialist Wehrhahn GmbH, also of Germany, plus Arlington Heights, Ill.-based Thermacrete LLC to produce and distribute Hebel AAC in the U.S.

“The mission that [CEO] Dr. Leonard Mills and his team at Verte have to invest in projects seeking to create a positive impact within the community and on the environment, and to add value for the fund’s investors, aligns nicely with ours,” says Probitas Managing Principal Charles Paterno. “We appreciate the confidence in our plans, and look forward to opening our manufacturing facility this quarter and meeting joint objectives.”

“This is our tenth investment, and it will enhance our portfolio by increasing domestic manufacturing, reducing carbon footprints in building materials, and promoting economic development of OZ communities such as Bennettsville, South Carolina,” affirms Dr. Mills. “We look forward to participating in the long-term growth of Probitas and AAC East.”

A staple for vertical and horizontal load- or non-load-bearing construction in Europe and other overseas markets, Hebel AAC ships in bulk block or panel form and is easily cut on site with conventional saws. It combines what Probitas notes are “the advantages of non-combustible concrete with the workability of wood [for] a completely ‘green’ material.”

Probitas Ventures and AAC East will help align U.S. capacity and demand for autoclaved aerated concrete, thanks to the Bennettsville plant output and distribution reach of Thermacrete LLC, a specialist in load- or non-load bearing firewall and other AAC building elements.

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