Warehousing Firm Takes Next Step To Moving To County

Michel To Rent Storage Space On Route 32 In September

August 07, 1991|By Erik Nelson and Kerry O'Rourke | Erik Nelson and Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writers

ELDERSBURG — A Hunt Valley warehousing company could bring 250 jobs to Carroll ifit moves its operations here as planned.

Michel Warehousing Corp.plans to move its headquarters to the county in about two years and its entire operation within the next five years, a senior vice president said.

In September, the company will begin its move to the county by leasing 205,000 square feet of warehouse space at the Eldersburg Business Center on Route 32, said Christopher P. Michel, senior vice president.

The expansion will create about 40 jobs, each paying $10 to $11 an hour, he said.

Company officials have not chosen a specific site for the headquarters, but Michel said they chose Carroll over Harford County. The company may purchase land in Carroll; it would needabout 1 million square feet of space for its entire operation, he said.

"We like the area. It's very much like Hunt Valley was when westarted," said Michel, who has lived in Hampstead for a year.

"The people in Carroll County have a good work ethic," he said, and the location is good for distributing goods to growing Western Maryland.

Michel Warehousing will lease the space from Merritt, a Baltimore commercial and industrial developer that opened the 85-acre business park last year.

The company will store products for Consumer ValueStores, a drugstore chain based in Rhode Island, he said. CVS will begin storing paper products at the warehouse Sept. 15, he said.

Tamra Edwards, a spokeswoman for Merritt, said Monday that she could not comment on the arrangement because a lease had not been signed. Michel said he expected the deal to be finalized at the end of this week.

James C. Threatte, director of the county Office of Economic Development, said Michel Warehousing's move will be "a substantial operation" and will increase the county's tax base.

"This is precisely the kind of thing we're trying to achieve," he said.

Londontown Corp. also leases space in the Eldersburg Business Center.

Last week, Michel Warehousing was involved in the Baltimore area's largest commercial real estate deal this year when it leased 177,600 square feetof space in Howard County.

The growing company's expansion is built on a shift from public warehousing, which is run on short-term contracts, to long-term "contract" warehousing.

Michel has been exclusively a public warehouser for 25 years, using 30-day contracts. But in the last year the company branched into contract warehousing to gain the added security of three- to five-year contracts.

"The theory behind public warehousing is that when somebody cancels out on you,then somebody is right there to come in behind them," Michel said.

That doesn't always hold true in today's uncertain economy, he added, and doesn't reassure lenders in a teetering financial market.

As an example, Michel cited the company's experience in Savage, which forced its departure from Howard County in June 1990.

"We had a customer on a 30-day contract, and he walked on us. That whole deal cost us about a million dollars. So, you kind of change your whole way of thinking."

Contract warehousing "is a brand-new part of our business and has quickly become the largest part of our business," Michelsaid.

Michel does warehousing and shipping for about 4,000 customers. Facilities are mainly in the Mid-Atlantic region, with plans to expand to Madison, Wis. Michel's larger clients include Procter & Gamble Co., Noxell Corp. and the makers of Glad and Arm & Hammer products.

Joseph Cronyn, who tracks commercial real estate activity as a senior associate at Legg Mason Realty Group in Baltimore, said Michel's 177,600-square-foot lease is the biggest deal in the Baltimore area so far this year.

"You don't lease that kind of space every day," he said. "That's over 4 acres under one roof."

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