Price-Modern to expand its operation in Baltimore Distributors

March 01, 1996|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Price-Modern Inc., a 92-year-old office supply and furniture distributor, said yesterday that it will expand and renovate its operation in the Remington neighborhood, bringing about 33 jobs from the suburbs into Baltimore.

The company's decision brings a spark of life to an historic business district that has been plagued by building vacancies in recent years.

Milford Marchant, president of Price-Modern, said the company will spend $500,000 to renovate its 80,000-square-foot building in the 2600 block of Sisson St. He said the renovation will let Price-Modern consolidate with two other local companies, Andrews Office Products in Columbia and Coffee Butler in Hanover.

The consolidation is one result of Price-Modern's purchase last year by U.S. Office Products, a Washington-based office products distributor with about $800 million in annual sales, Mr. Marchant said.

About 116 of Price-Modern's 154 employees will work at the Baltimore headquarters.

Price-Modern, now a subsidiary with about $50 million a year in annual sales, will operate largely independently of U.S. Office Products, Mr. Marchant said.

"Price-Modern chose U.S. Products as a strategic partner because it's the kind of company where we maintain our local identity," he said.

Mr. Marchant said Price-Modern occupies the former Barton Cotton Co. building, to which it moved in the late 1960s. In recent years, it has been surrounded by vacant buildings, including an old print shop and a former Sun Cab Co. office.

The Price-Modern executive said he approached the city government early this year to discuss deteriorating conditions in the neighborhood, as well as a lack of parking near the building. He said he found the response from the Baltimore Development Corp. encouraging enough to go ahead with the consolidation in Remington.

"I feel we will be able to get some support and some help," he said, adding that the company had not received any financial incentives to remain in the city.

Brent Coleman, BDC's business development director, said the city will try to help organize a business association for the Sisson Street corridor to address such issues as parking, vacancies and vandalism.

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