Jessup plastics company plans move to Baltimore

June 19, 1993|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

Going against the tide, an Italian-owned plastics manufacturer is moving from the suburbs into Baltimore, praising the cheap rent, the access to transportation and the availability of labor.

"The reasons we are moving are economic," said Giovanni A. Capra, general manager and chief executive of Tenax USA Corp.

Tenax, part of Tenax Spa of Como, Italy, expects to move next month from a 40,000-square-foot building in Jessup to an 80,000-square-foot space at 4800 E. Monument St. in East Baltimore. The company will also double its production of plastic products and boost its work force to 50 employees from 35, Mr. Capra said.

The company makes a variety of plastic products, ranging from bright orange slats used in highway barriers to plastic objects placed in the bottom of landfills to aid drainage.

The planned move comes in contrast to a continuing exodus of companies from the city, which have included McCormick & Co. Inc., PHH Corp., Chaimson Co. and Baltimore Life Insurance Co.

Indeed, Tenax's new building was left vacant by its owner, J. J. Haines & Co. Inc., when the distributor of floor coverings moved to Anne Arundel County in July 1991.

But Mr. Capra said the advantages of doing business in the city were an enticing magnet for his company.

Even though the company is moving to a larger building, the rent is less expensive, Mr. Capra said. Tenax also has an option in three years to purchase the building for $800,000 -- about one-third the cost of a similar building in Howard County, he said.

"The availability of buildings in good shape is tremendous," Mr. Capra said.

The new location also has the advantages of a rail line nearby for receiving shipments of plastic pellets and a bus stop in front of the building for employee transportation.

The problem of getting unskilled workers to affluent Howard County was "our major problem," Mr. Capra said.

Tenax was also enticed into Baltimore with a $500,000 low-interest loan provided by the Baltimore Development Corp., which will be used to buy equipment and improve the site, Mr. Capra said. The Baltimore Development Corp. is an economic development agency funded by the city.

The former J. J. Haines complex has a total of 150,000 square feet, giving Tenax additional room for possible expansion.

The company will start production at the new facility at the end of July and phase out operations at its former location at 8291 Patuxent Range Road in Jessup by the end of September, he said.

After the move, the company plans to double the number of plastic extruding machines to four, boosting annual sales to about $20 million from $10 million, Mr. Capra said. The company operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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