Firm to add employees, equipment Knorr Brake says it likes Westminster

August 13, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Within the next few months Knorr Brake Corp., which manufactures brake systems for passenger trains, will double its operations in Westminster.

The Carroll County expansion -- which will create about 100 jobs -- is a result of consolidation with New York Air Brake in Watertown, N.Y.

Company officials plan to reduce the size of New York Air Brake, which will continue to make brakes for freight trains and locomotives. Knorr will take over all the building of brakes for light-rail lines, subway systems, Amtrak trains and high-speed passenger trains.

Both companies are owned by the German company Knorr-Bremse AG.

"Since we acquired New York Air Brake in January 1991, we have been discussing whether we should be consolidated into one facility or have multiple facilities," said Stefan Rusynko, Knorr's vice president of marketing.

"In our discussions, the state of Maryland has been very cooperative in convincing us to remain here," he said.

In September 1991, the company moved from Rockville to Westminster, rather than consolidating at the New York plant, he said.

"The state was very useful in the deciding process," Mr. Rusynko said. "They helped by discussing the obvious things the state can do to support the act of growth. Training programs, locating personnel and geographic location in relation to our business needs were all factors in that consideration."

Expansion primarily will be in employment, machines and level of business, since Knorr is not using all its 80,000 square feet of space in the 800 block of Route 140, Mr. Rusynko said.

The Westminster factory, which employs 72 people, will have about 180 employees within the next two years.

Company officials plan to increase five-fold the amount of machinery and double the Carroll County plant's current business of about $20 million a year.

"We've been hiring all year for things not associated with this announcement," Mr. Rusynko said. "Hiring will include all areas of the organization, from professional people, engineers and management, through manufacturing jobs and machine operators. All skill levels will be included."

County officials estimate about 20 of those jobs will be filled by employees from the New York Air Brake facility.

"It is a possibility that some of the people in certain skill levels will be interested in relocating," Mr. Rusynko said.

Eileen Shields, marketing manager for the Carroll County Office of Economic Development, said the expansion shows how healthy manufacturing industries are in Carroll County and Maryland.

"It is important to look at this move as reflective of the success Knorr Brake has had here in the past two years," she said. "This will offer a lot of good positions and steady employment for many families.

"That's what economic development is all about, providing good job opportunities here in the county."

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said that Knorr's expansion helps further his goal of increasing job opportunities for young people who have grown up in Carroll.

"Then they don't have to follow their parents and look for jobs outside of the county," he said. "This all helps our tax base and does great things for Carroll County."

Knorr employees who followed the company from Rockville are particularly happy with expansion, Mr. Rusynko said.

"Since we arrived here, we've been very excited [to be in Carroll]," he said.

"There's been a pleasant change of pace. And now, with the certainty of us remaining and growing here, many employees who still live outside the county are looking at relocating in the area," Mr. Rusynko said.

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