By Mike Lewis
Jamison Door confirmed Monday afternoon that the company plans to move one of its three Washington County facilities to Franklin County, Pa.
The decision to relocate the company’s roll-up door operation, which employs eight to 10 people, came after several failed attempts to find a suitable site in Washington County where it could expand that part of Jamison’s business.
The move also comes after the county commissioners did not act on Jamison’s offer to pay $3 million for a county-owned building on Tandy Drive near the detention center.
“Our level of frustration (with the commissioners) is pretty high,” said John T. Williams, Jamison’s chairman and chief executive officer.
Terry L. Baker, president of the five-member Board of Washington County Commissioners, said the company’s proposal was not placed on an agenda for public action because “we didn’t have three votes.”
“It’s heartbreaking,” Baker said. “They’re manufacturing jobs. In every community across the country, they’re begging for manufacturing jobs.”
Phone calls to the other four county commissioners were not returned by deadline Monday evening.
- Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., confirmed that the company and his organization have reached a deal. Under the agreement, Jamison will acquire a $3.5 million, 50,000-square-foot building FCADC will build in the Wharf Road Industrial Park near Waynesboro.
“We were the backup on this one for them, I think. … We’re pleased to be in a position to be able to help them and keep them in our part of the world,” Ross said.
Baker confirmed that the company offered $3 million to buy the former Phoenix Color building near the county detention center. He said he supported that idea and the company “bent over backward” to work with the county.
Williams said the company would have preferred a Washington County site.
“We’ve looked at 15 or 20 sites (in Washington County) and have not been successful at finding anything that met our needs,” Williams said. The Franklin County option “is much less expensive than any proposal we have for a similar facility in Washington County.”
Jamison was founded in Hagerstown in 1906 and employs more than 100 people. The company makes cold-storage and specialty doors and has three operations in Washington County.
The main facility and headquarters is at 55 JV Jamison Drive in Hagerstown, near Prospect Avenue, off Forest Drive. A second operation near Williamsport employs eight to 10 people making fiberglass doors.
The third facility — the one the company is looking to move and expand — makes high-speed roll-up doors in a building off Sharpsburg Pike, near the Conservit metals recycling business.
“We’re completely out of space where we are out by Conservit,” Williams said, and the company “desperately needs to add” roll-up door production capacity. He anticipates employment in that operation could double to 16 to 20 people within in the next few years.
He said Rob Slocum, the Washington County administrator, and Kassie Lewis, the county’s director of business development, “have been very, very good” to work with during the search.
When the search efforts came up empty, Williams said, the county brought up the idea of the company leasing some space in the former Phoenix Color structure. That building houses the day reporting center offices, a maintenance area for Washington County Sheriff’s Office vehicles and a warehouse for the county election board. But about 46,000 square feet “is used for nothing,” he said.
Williams said the company prefers to own a building for the manufacturing operation, but it liked the Tandy Drive facility. It offered $3 million to buy the building, as well as terms that would provide rent-free space to the county for a period of time.
“We liked the idea of being in the building with the sheriff,” he added.
Baker said the issue has been the subject of discussions during the past couple of months. During a closed meeting, the commissioners reviewed the company’s offer and the concerns of Sheriff Doug Mullendore. Attending were four commissioners: Baker, John F. Barr, Jeffrey A. Cline and Wayne K. Keefer. Baker said the fifth commissioner, LeRoy E. Myers Jr., owns other property Jamison rents and did not attend.
“Our mission was to make the sheriff whole,” Baker said. “He has some operations in that building.”
On Monday night, Mullendore said, “I certainly urged them not to sell the building, because I think it’s the wrong thing to do.”
He said the county paid some $5 million for the structure and property, and that it is used for critical operations. He said the county bought it with the idea of expanding the detention center when that becomes necessary.
Baker said the county found options for most of the sheriff’s concerns. But he said the five-member board of commissioners lacked the votes necessary to take action.
Slocum said county officials have “worked very diligently” with Jamison on the site search.
“We’ve just been trying to bring options to the table. … It’s just unfortunate we haven’t been able to find them a suitable location,” he said.