Brake Firm's Relocation Breaks Up Countians' Commutes

Westminster Residents Go To Work For Knorr

October 13, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — For Michael Davis, Knorr Brake Corp.'s move here from Montgomery County meant he could spend less time on the road and more at home with his 4-month-old daughter, Kayla.

"This is great. I'm five minutes from my home," said Davis, who has worked for the company for almost a month.

In September, the railway brake manufacturer moved from Rockvilleto the former Telemecanique Inc. building on Route 140, just east ofthe intersection with Route 97.

Knorr Brake has hired 20 employees so far, most of them from the Westminster area and most in office jobs, said Jeffrey C. Pringle, vice president of operations.

Davis,27, had commuted to a job in Bethesda. He took a pay cut to work as a buyer at Knorr Brake but said he will save on travel expenses and have more time with his family.

Jayne Bowersox, 30, also took a paycut to work as a contracts administrator at Knorr Brake. The job is challenging, she said, and will give her the opportunity to travel toGermany. She also said she's glad she doesn't have to commute to Columbia, Howard County, where she worked for a defense contractor.

"I like Westminster," she said. "I can't believe I'm living here and working here. I've never lived and worked in the same town."

Bowersox said she also sees opportunities to move up at Knorr Brake that she didn't see at her previous job with Daedalean Inc.

Davis agreed,adding that spin-off business will help the county. Knorr Brake is buying from local suppliers, he said, and visiting customers are staying in local inns and eating at restaurants in the area.

"It's a growing company. It's definitely going to benefit Carroll County," he said.

Knorr Brake workers are setting up the manufacturing shop at the new plant, Pringle said. The 78,500-square-foot shop should be ready by Tuesday, he said.

Almost all of the 55 employees who workedat the Rockville facility transferred to Westminster, said Pringle, who commutes from his Montgomery County home.

The company plans tohire 25 more people by early next year, many of whom will be skilledlaborers, he said.

"We're finding a lot of talent in the Westminster community," Pringle said. "And people are stationary. It seems they've lived here their whole lives."

Shirley L. Meyers, 50, has lived in Westminster since 1975. She took a job as a buyer at Knorr Brake after 25 years at Telemecanique. "I saw great opportunities at this company," she said.

Earlier this year, Telemecanique, a French company that makes automation equipment for factories, consolidated operations at its facility on Bethel Road outside Westminster and movedits U.S. headquarters to Owings Mills, Baltimore County.

Telemecanique still is using some space in the Route 140 building but will befully moved by the end of the year, said Mary Herron, a spokeswoman for the company. Workers are finishing a project and did not want to have to move the equipment, she said.

Knorr Brake will invest $11.5 million in the next two years for land, building and equipment at the new site, said Stefan B. Rusynko, vice president for marketing.

The privately owned company had been in Rockville since 1975.

In February, Knorr Brake officials announced that they would move here because it would have been too expensive to expand in Montgomery County and because workers would be more readily available in Carroll.

The state gave the company a $100,000 training grant to retrain workers.

Knorr Brake has a $3.1 million contract to supply brakes for cars for Baltimore's light-rail system being built from Hunt Valley toGlen Burnie, Rusynko said.

The company also will supply brakes for light-rail systems in St. Louis and San Diego and has contracts with Amtrak for $5 million to $6 million a year, he said.

The parent company, Knorr-Bremse, is based in Munich, Germany, has operations onfive continents and employs 8,500 people. Sales in 1990 were $900 million.

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