Distributor seeks new headquarters

June 03, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

Commerce Corp., a Linthicum Heights-based distributor of lawn and garden products, said yesterday that it is looking for a new headquarters in what could prove to be one of the biggest warehouse deals in the region this year.

Company President Richard Lessans said the company will look for an existing 300,000-square-foot warehouse to replace the 187,000-square-foot building it will vacate near the junction of Interstate 695 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and a 100,000-square-foot space the company leased two years ago as an interim step to cope with sales growth.

But Mr. Lessans acknowledged that the search could quickly turn into a plan to build a new building.

"There's not a whole lot of [buildings] in the size we need," he said.

He said the company, which employs 250, has been quoted construction costs ranging from $25 to $30 a square foot, which could make the value of the project as high as $9 million. The company would want to make sure the building could eventually be expanded to 450,000 square feet, which would make it one of the largest commercial buildings in the Baltimore suburbs.

"We sell to [retailers] up and down the East Coast, and the people we sell to are growing," Mr. Lessans said. "The only thing that really affects us is the weather."

The company, one of the largest distributors of lawn and garden products in the nation, also has operations in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Its annual sales are about $100 million.

Commerce was founded in Baltimore 70 years ago by Mr. Lessans' grandfather, taking its name from Commerce Street downtown, and moved to Linthicum in 1977.

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