Franklin Co. seeing manufacturing growth from international companies

Posted on Apr 4, 2015 by Jennifer Fitch

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — When a couple international companies made commitments to open manufacturing plants in Franklin County, Pa., during the worst period of the United States’ most recent recession, they ended up serving as a catalyst to bring to the county a dozen businesses headquartered in Brazil, Germany, England, Ireland, Denmark and India.

“Now, they’re here. They can become ambassadors for us,” said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

The region’s largest manufacturers like Manitowoc, JLG, Volvo Powertrain and Volvo Construction Equipment have long produced their machinery around the world. Today, businesses within their global supply chains are opening North American facilities to further support those manufacturers.

For instance, TORCOMP, a preferred vendor for Volvo Construction Equipment, is a Brazilian manufacturing company with a new location in Cumberland Valley Business Park in Chambersburg, Pa. It is across from DeeTag, a Canadian company that also is a supplier for Volvo CE, which has its own headquarters in Belgium.

DeeTag followed Volvo CE to the greater Shippensburg, Pa., area when it closed a plant in Ontario.

Although that time in 2010 was difficult because of being somewhat forced into the move, the site selection and opening in Franklin County went smoothly, according to Dean Gordon, president of DeeTag.

“It was a Keystone Opportunity Zone (which offers companies reduced state and local taxes). It was really built to our requirements,” Gordon said of the plant.

DeeTag, which manufactures hydraulic hose assemblies, found a strong workforce in Franklin County and feels it has potential to develop relationships with additional original equipment manufacturers, he said.

A lot of the original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, are looking for similar parts, such as hydraulic cylinders, Ross said.

Franklin County Area Development Corp.’s goal is to get the OEMs’ existing suppliers here and work with them to develop new contracts with other manufacturers, he said.

“We can avail support for those companies that is meaningful for them and the OEMs,” Ross said.

Gate 7 arrives, thrives

Gate 7 — a firm from Newcastle, England — came to Franklin County to make decals for Manitowoc cranes and other businesses. It employs 16 people in Antrim Commons Business Park in Greencastle, Pa.

“We have very niche products for OEM customers,” said John Reay, executive vice president of Gate 7.

Gate 7 maintains specific hues of colors for companies such as Manitowoc, Volvo and Sunbelt Rentals. Its decals are made through thermal transfer and ink jet processes, and a product called “metal photo” is a plate with serial numbers that cannot be removed using chemicals or blades.

Gate 7 is growing faster than anticipated, with 2012 sales doubling 2010’s sales. The company recently asked a tenant in its building to move out to create additional space, and discussions are under way to further expand to the back of the property.

“The site was always planned to be 15,000 square feet eventually,” Reay said.

Gate 7 initially had personnel working from the Manitowoc campus in Shady Grove, Pa., then occupied a leased property in Greencastle starting in 2008. They opened in Antrim Commons Business Park in September 2013. Reay said launching U.S. operations in the economic downturn created a strain, but it also gave the company a slower time during which it could get its footing.

“It came to a point in 2007 when the exchange rate (between the U.S. dollar and British pound) was basically 2-to-1, and it was almost like giving our customers a 20 percent discount and still having to pay the cost of shipping. We then started to look at setting up a facility, and we did that in 2008,” Reay said.

An international flavor

Atlas Copco from Sweden manufactures mining and construction products in Fort Loudon, Pa. Germany’s VETTER Forks has a warehouse and modification facility in the Cumberland Valley Business Park, and Burnside Autocyl from Ireland is making hydraulic cylinders nearby.

Danfoss Group of Denmark acquired drives manufacturer Vacon, which earlier came to the area through an acquisition of TB Wood’s electric division.

Wipro Infrastructure Engineering from India ended up in Chambersburg in a non-traditional way. The company contacted businessman Eric Olson, a Chambersburg native, about establishing operations in the United States.

“All of the building blocks are here,” Olson said, saying the area offers lower energy costs than some countries, a strong employment pool, rail and highway infrastructure, and access to ports.

Olson, Wipro’s general manager of North America, credited Ross with playing a large role in securing the deal for what would become Wipro Enterprises Inc. locally.

“Certainly, the first phone call I would make (as an international business considering U.S. expansion) would be to Mike Ross and his people,” Reay said, saying Franklin County Area Development Corp. helped him with construction and state programs for financing.

Ross went on his first international trade mission to Brazil in 2012 under an invitation from Sweden-based Volvo Group, which was holding a supplier forum. That trip allowed him to establish contact with Wipro Infrastructure Engineering and TORCOMP.

He later returned to Brazil with Pennsylvania’s then-governor, Tom Corbett, to make a business announcement. In August 2014, he flew to Ireland for a three-day trip in which he pitched a property to Burnside Autocyl.

Ross said he tells business owners he’s there to build relationships, saying Franklin County Area Development Corp. can build structures and lease them to companies, help companies find existing structures they can purchase, or handle permitting and financing details if they want to build.

For Gate 7, Franklin County Area Development Corp. negotiated the sale of the property, conducted a design-build process and managed construction for the company. It did the same for TORCOMP.

DeeTag wanted to lease 15,000 square feet, and Franklin County Area Development Corp. could not find a suitable structure when it canvassed real estate inventory. The development corporation, a private-public partnership, decided to build a facility and lease it to DeeTag.

“Once you’ve made the commitment to be here, we want to support you,” Ross said.

Jennifer Fitch is a reporter for The Herald-Mail. She can be reached via email at jenniferf@herald-mail.com.

Architect unveils plans for former Central Junior High

CHAMBERSBURG >> The first phase of redevelopment of the former Chambersburg Central Junior High School may be finished as early as next year.

Vern McKissick, owner of architectural firm McKissick Associates of Harrisburg, unveiled plans for the vacant school building Thursday to community and economic leaders.

McKissick said the project will be a two-phase development incorporating historic tax credits and historic restoration. The plan is demolish approximately 45,000 square feet of space in the middle of the building, creating two separate buildings.

Phase 1 involves 27 apartments called Rose Rent Lofts — an homage to the tradition that congregations of three Chambersburg churches offer a rose to a member of the city’s founding family.

The plan is to build 14 single, eight two-bedroom, and five three-bedroom apartments, ranging from 800 to 1,400 square feet.

“We want to have a continuum of folks,” McKissick said. “Our target is teachers, nurses, young professionals, millenials, folks who have an empty nest.”

The market-rate loft apartments would be built in the oldest part of Central, located off of South Third Street. That section dates to 1908.

Many people mistakenly believe that the part of the building with the columns facing Queen Street is the oldest part of the building, McKissick said.

That section will be redeveloped in Phase 2 into learning and working space.

McKissick said the firm has been “talking to a lot of different people” about occupancy.

Design for the project began in December with demolition expected to take place in late summer to early fall. Construction could potentially begin in November with occupancy in summer 2016.

“We’re not sure which will be the first phase — the housing, or maybe Phase 2 — because of the interest,” McKissick said.

The Franklin County Area Development Corp. acquired the former Chambersburg Central Junior High School at 285 E. Queen St. in October.

“We think the redevelopment brings an investment in downtown Chambersburg that can be a catalyst for attracting other development,” said L. Michael Ross, president of FCADC.

The redevelopment project was estimated to cost $7 million. The building, more than a century old, has been vacant more than four years.

“In some way, it’s been in this advanced state of preservation,” McKissick said. “Although portions of it have been used over the years, we still found a paper with the last meals from May 1985. We found a resignation from the last janitor in one of the bins.”

McKissick Associates has experience working with historic buildings. The firm received a $1 million grant for the restoration of the Hazleton “Castle” Auditorium, which dates from the same time period as portions of Central.

The firm in 2000 worked on the redevelopment of the former Schoeneman building into the Chambersburg Area School District administrative offices.

Marcus Rauhut can be reached at 262-4752.

Waynesboro school board approves tax breaks for potential employers

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 9:59 pm | Updated: 10:17 pm, Tue Feb 24, 2015.

Posted on Feb 24, 2015 by Jennifer Fitch

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Two employers considering opening manufacturing plants in Wharf Road Industrial Park in Washington Township, Pa., will be extended tax benefits under a Waynesboro Area School Board vote cast Tuesday.

The two companies planning to build within the industrial park could become major employers in the township, according to L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County (Pa.) Area Development Corp.

The business eyeing Lot One would have more than 100 employees, Ross said.

The business interested in Lot Five would be more capital intensive at first, with significant hiring probably happening in later years, he said.

The Waynesboro Area School Board toured the Franklin County Career and Technology Center and held its regularly scheduled meeting there Tuesday night.

The board voted unanimously to offer Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement (LERTA) benefits to the companies if they choose to open in the industrial park centered on Zane A. Miller Drive.

Through LERTA, participants from designated properties in the Waynesboro area and some other parts of Franklin County are eligible for savings on their property tax bill for 10 years if they make improvements.

LERTA is designed to encourage improvements to dilapidated commercial and industrial properties.

LERTA affects only improved portions of properties. If $100,000 worth of improvements are made on a $200,000 property, the owner would pay full real estate taxes only on $200,000 — not $300,000 — for several years.

Ross said he feels both Lots One and Five fit into LERTA’s mission because there are challenges with developing them.

He mentioned slopes on the land and already-completed remediation of arsenic in soil on Lot One.

Ross declined to name the potential tenants.

He said Lot One’s company would be a consolidation and expansion project for a company with operations in Pennsylvania and Maryland, while Lot Five’s company would be a start-up.

“There have been no commitments at this point … but we are encouraged there is activity and interest in those lots,” Ross said.

The companies would be making $3 million investments each, he said.

Construction is under way in Wharf Road Industrial Park for both Pacemaker Press PP&S and Fil-Tec, with completion anticipated by April and July, respectively.

Fil-Tec makes fiber-related products such as dental floss, and Pacemaker Press PP&S is a commercial web-printing company.

Together, they have the potential to bring nearly 100 jobs to the community in the next three years, according to published reports.

The 12-lot Wharf Road Industrial Park includes 121 acres of the former Bromley orchard. In 1999, former state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin/Adams/York, secured a $900,000 grant that financed the industrial park’s infrastructure.

“We’re excited,” Ross said. “It’s taken a while due to some challenges with development there.”

While Franklin County has sites along Interstate 81 for large distribution centers, there are fewer opportunities for 20,000- to 40,000-square foot buildings for 50 to 100 workers, Ross said.

Wharf Road Industrial Park is one place for those businesses, which would bring economic diversity to the area, he said.

Jennifer Fitch is a reporter for The Herald-Mail. She can be reached via email at jenniferf@herald-mail.com.

Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe’s expansion continues

Posted on Feb 9, 2015 by Jennifer Fitch

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe Inc. is in the midst of its largest capital investment to date, with the construction of a new warehouse and corporate office in Chambersburg.

The baker of potato rolls is consolidating its Pennsylvania operations at its Pa. 316 location, and ridding itself of two off-campus storage spaces used in recent years, according to Scott Heintzelman, vice president of finance and administration.

Construction crews have been busy at the site since mid-2014. The new, 40,000-square-foot corporate office is scheduled to be completed in June, and the 145,000-square foot addition to the existing bakery in August.

The investment represents Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe Inc.’s eighth expansion since moving to the intersection of Pa. 316 (Wayne Avenue) and Gabler Road in 1978.

Heintzelman declined to reveal how much Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe Inc. is spending on the expansion, but he said it is the largest capital investment in the history of the company.

Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe employs about 400 people in Pennsylvania, and operates another plant in Georgia. It is in the top five of Franklin County’s largest manufacturing employers.

Heintzelman said he is especially excited about the new enclosed pedestrian walkway that will link the office and bakery.

“This ‘long hallway’ will really help all departments to connect and engage each other better,” he wrote in an email.

All local delivery routes, including those to Harrisburg, Pa., and Hagerstown, will soon have trucks arriving at the bakery, as opposed to loading at a separate property in Marion, Pa. Some of the sales team members also had been working in Marion.

The existing office will be torn down this summer to create better parking for employees.

The capital project includes the installation of air conditioning for the warehouse and bakery. Company officials said air conditioning will allow for better control of humidity, which should result in a more consistent quality product.

Jennifer Fitch is a reporter for The Herald-Mail. She can be reached via email at jenniferf@herald-mail.com.

Large employer considers locating in Pa. industrial park

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 6:22 pm | Updated: 6:31 pm, Tue Feb 3, 2015.

Feb 3, 2015 by Jennifer Fitch

ZULLINGER, Pa. — Another large employer is eyeing Wharf Road Industrial Park as a place to build a plant, according to a leading Franklin County developmentofficial.

If the business chooses to develop Lot One and bring more than 100 employees to the industrial park in Washington Township, Pa., it would join Pacemaker Press PP&S Inc. and Fil-Tec Inc. as new tenants.

“We’re working with someone, but there have not been any commitments made,” Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross said Tuesday.

He declined to identify the company.

Ross said his office is working to put together a financial package with low-interest loans and grants to offer the business.

He said one partner could be Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Action Team.

The Waynesboro (Pa.) Industrial Development Corp. is also asking the Waynesboro Area School District to extend tax incentives through a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement, or LERTA, program.

LERTA designations allow eligible property owners to receive tax savings for 10 years after making improvements to a property.

Lot One, which is adjacent to CAM Superline Inc., would be a good fit for LERTA incentives because of challenges associated with doing construction on that land, Ross said.

He pointed to the significant site work that would be required due to the slope.

“To create a lot that is buildable will take a lot of work,” Ross said.

Meanwhile, another company also appears to be considering making Wharf Road Industrial Park its home. The Washington Township Planning Commission is scheduled to review an expansion of an existing building off Zane A. Miller Drive.

The 12-lot Wharf Road Industrial Park comprises 121 acres of the former Bromley orchard. In 1999, former state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin/Adams/York, secured a $900,000 grant that financed the industrial park’s infrastructure.

Construction is under way for both Fil-Tec and Pacemaker Press PP&S.

Fil-Tec makes fiber-related products such as dental floss, while Pacemaker Press PP&S is a commercial web-printing company.

Together, they have the potential to bring nearly 100 jobs to the community in the next three years, according to published reports.

Ross envisions Wharf Road Industrial Park as a place where 300 to 400 people soon will be working each day. He said that the employment levels might spur the opening of a new restaurant or small businesses nearby

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