RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The sustainable building start-up Plantd recently relocated manufacturing facilities and headquarters to Oxford from Durham as the building of a new company continues at a former tobacco factory.

After securing Series A funding in December of last year the company went to work expanding operations. Plantd signed the lease in February on an 80,000-square-foot warehouse and office facility formerly occupied by the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company. The new location was announced earlier this month.

Conversation with Plantd’s CTO

I spoke with Planted co-founder and CTO Huade Tan about the move at the NCAWDB and NC IDEA-sponsored event, “Fueling the Future of the Small Business and the Entrepreneur Ecosystem – A Small Business and Entrepreneurial Convening.”

“It’s kind of an interesting thing to be in that kind of an environment making carbon-negative materials in a cigarette factory, but we do our best to make it our own and we do a lot to make it an inviting place. We have coffee,” joked Tan.

Plantd got its start only 2 years ago when Tan and his colleague Nathan Silvernail teamed up with serial entrepreneur Josh Dorfman. The company has grown fast since then.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” Tan confirmed.

Durham startup armed with $10M aims to revolutionize construction materials production


Workforce Opportunities

In addition to his work on the engineering side, Tan is charged with recruitment. But it’s not really something he minds.

“That’s awesome in its own way, I think because you get to see the future of the industry. You get to hopefully meet someone that has much more time ahead of them that can go off and start down this path and you know, take it further than I possibly can,” said Tan. Expounding on the need to recruit talent in unique ways, Tan recognized that new talent often has diverse interests.

“The really exciting thing is to offer this as an option outside of you know, the traditional aerospace, aerospace, defense, you know, career path,” said Tan. “I meet quite a few people and they’re just not all that excited about working at a defense contractor. It’s like, life has to be a little bit more exciting.”

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According to the press release, Plantd’s takeover of the cigarette factory also helps local farmers who lost contracts when the facility shuttered in 2022. Plantd plans to work with local farmers by offering contracts for them to plant their proprietary grass and then harvest it for manufacturing taking place at the Oxford plant. New, all-electric production lines are slated to open at the new facility within the next 12 months.