New deal sought for Salisbury plant

August 04, 1994|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

Just days after the collapse of a deal that would have kept open the former Grumman Corp. plant in Salisbury, a new agreement to save the plant could be completed as early as this week.

Wicomico County officials hope to reach an agreement with a Phoenix, Ariz., businessman in time to avert a plant closing and save the jobs of the 80 remaining workers there, Edgar A. Baker, an attorney for the county, said yesterday.

If a deal is reached, Salisbury Technologies, a Maryland corporation being formed by John Corella, president of Corella Electric Wire and Cable Inc., would take over current contracts held by Grumman and seek additional work for the plant.

Salisbury Technologies would continue to make wire and cable for aircraft and test equipment for military products, he said.

But Mr. Corella said his plans hinge on the outcome of negotiations under way to enter into production contracts with Grumman.

"We would hope to maintain the same level of support and actively seek additional work," Mr. Corella said. "It would mean calling back more people" to work.

Mr. Corella, who heads the Hispanic-owned company, had won Minority Small Business Person of the Year in the Small Business Administration's Western Region in 1992, when Corella Electric landed a multimillion-dollar deal to lease and operate a new wire manufacturing plant for American Telephone & Telegraph Co. in Phoenix.

Salisbury Technologies began negotiating with Wicomico County officials after a deal with Roxbury Electronics Corp., a privately owned, Boston-based electronics company, began to collapse.

Roxbury had announced in March that it would take over the 9-year-old plant to expand its work as a maker of fiber-optic cable components, transmission boxes and switches for AT&T. Roxbury, which had formed a subsidiary, Salisbury Electronics, failed earlier this week to meet financial requirements of both Grumman and the county.

Grumman announced in May 1993 that it would eliminate the 244 Salisbury jobs by the end of this year. It agreed to keep the plant open as the state and county worked out plans for the county to buy the facility and lease it.

The county's plan calls for it to buy the land, building and equipment with a $2.4 million loan from the state.

But Grumman no longer can afford to extend deadlines to sell the complex, as it did during negotiations with Roxbury, Grumman spokeswoman Susan Vassallo said yesterday.

"We are working very hard with the county to very swiftly secure another deal that will benefit employees at the Salisbury facility and also the county," Ms. Vassallo said yesterday. "We're trying to move it along."

When it appeared that Roxbury would be unable to come up with a $700,000 line of credit for start-up expenses, the county approached Mr. Corella, who had expressed interest in running the plant, Mr. Baker said.

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