Jessup firm moves work to Red Lion

September 01, 1995|By John E. Woodruff | John E. Woodruff,Sun Staff Writer

Tate Access Floors, a 300-worker company that has been based in Jessup since its founding 32 years ago, has moved its main operations to Pennsylvania, taking advantage of $3.75 million in incentives that Maryland officials declined to match, the firm's president said yesterday.

The company bought out last year the buildings and equipment of a competitor in Red Lion, Pa., that had been owned by U.S. Gypsum. After the purchase, it had to choose between Jessup and Red Lion to consolidate its operations, said Daniel R. Baker, the firm's president.

"I think we fell between the slats in Maryland because of our timing, dealing last year with a lame-duck administration that just didn't respond to our needs even when Pennsylvania was very quick to offer excellent terms," Mr. Baker said.

"Everything I know says that the new administration in Maryland is much more alert to economic development issues, and I feel certain that if we were doing the same thing this year, we would be able to get a hearing. What we wanted to do was bring jobs from Pennsylvania to Maryland, and it's very sad that we ended up doing it the other way around," he said.

Mark L. Wasserman, who was Maryland's secretary of economic development until last year in the administration of then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer, said yesterday that his department, far from ignoring the Tate proposal, found it unattractive.

"In situations like this one, based on what we knew at the time, sometimes saying 'no' is the most prudent course to follow in the interest of the Maryland taxpayer," Mr. Wasserman said.

Citing the confidentiality of information companies submit to the department with their proposals, Mr. Wasserman declined to say specifically why the Tate proposal was unattractive.

Tate makes and installs raised floors to accommodate the cables that connect computers, computer terminals and other electronic equipment in modern offices.

The firm had 253 full-time employees and 70 temporary workers at Jessup before making the move, the biggest single step of which was completed late last week with the closing of the Maryland factory and warehouse.

When the move is completed later this month, only the headquarters contingent of about 25 people, mainly sales and administrative personnel, will remain at Jessup, Mr. Baker said. In Red Lion, by contrast, the company has rehired 163 former U.S. Gypsum workers, the overwhelming majority of that shop's payroll, and hired 93 more Pennsylvania workers. It plans to add 22 workers in the next few months, Mr. Baker said.

In addition, 65 of the former Jessup employees have accepted offers to work in Red Lion, and many of them will move to places in Pennsylvania or Maryland that allow them to commute, he said.

To get Tate, Pennsylvania offered a two-part incentive package.

It provided a seven-year loan of $2.75 million at 2 percent interest from the state's "sunny day" fund to help with the purchase of equipment and machinery. And it gave Tate a 15-year, $1 million mortgage loan from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority to help buy the real estate.

Tate added about $8 million in private financing to complete the deal, Mr. Baker said.

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