Connecticut Company Salvages Havre De Grace Plant

Ex-honeycomb Operation Will Be Moved To Riverside

March 15, 1992|By Michael K. Burns | Michael K. Burns,Staff writer

A Havre de Grace plant scheduled for closing two months ago has beenpurchased from American Cyanamid Co. by Lunn Industries Inc. of Newtown, Conn.

Lunn acquired American Cyanamid's Honeycomb division Jan. 31, renaming it Alcore Inc.

The new owner is continuing operations at the existing facility, producing aluminum honeycomb core material for aircraft and aerospacemanufacturers, while making plans to move by midyear to a new site in Riverside Business Park.

"They wanted to sell, we wanted to buy,it was as simple as that," said Edwin F. Phelps Jr., president of Lunn, who declined to give the sale price.

Initially Phelps had planned to move the facility to Connecticut, and had even picked a location. But the quality of the local work force convinced him otherwise.

"We were especially impressed by the people who had worked there along time, and we wanted to keep them. So we moved ourselves down toMaryland."

The firm expects to employ at least 60 people, Phelps said.

Larry Cerra, a representative of the United Auto Workers union at Cyanamid, said about a dozen employees may lose jobs in the changeover. Some will transfer to the American Cyanamid adhesives operations in Havre de Grace, he said.

American Cyanamid plans to use the vacated Honeycomb building for warehousing and future needs, said plant manager Michael Reed. It is located adjacent to the adhesives facilities on Revolution Street.

Although the unit's sales amounted to about $9 million last year, American Cyanamid had given employees notice in November that the plant would close as part of its plan to shed peripheral businesses. An employee buyout effort faltered beforeLunn became involved.

"We were looking at a worst-case scenario of losing the jobs and having a vacant 83,000-square-foot building to fill," said James Fielder, Harford's economic development director.

"Now it looks like the best case," he added, with American Cyanamidplanning to use the vacated plant.

The Honeycomb plant is one of only four in the world producing the unique light, high-strength material used in making airplane wings, missile fins and jet engine fins.

Phelps said the aluminum product will complement the plastic honeycomb materials produced by Lunn and its subsidiaries, which also is used in military aircraft and for naval craft antennas.

"It certainly fits our product line," he said, adding: "We are looking at aggressively expanding sales."

Fielder said the case illustrated the importance of retaining existing employment in order to maintain the county's good business climate.

This month, the county got the bad news that it would lose 225 jobs when the Gleneagles Co. rainwear factory in Bel Air shuts down May 1 without an apparent buyer.

In somegood news, however, MCI Telecommunications Corp. announced it will build a computerized data storage center near Creswell, employing 40 people and generating about $1.5 million a year in county taxes.

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