Alcore chooses Harford as home Manufacturing jobs coming to a county seeking them

Pay is $13 to $18 an hour

March 27, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

Aluminum products maker Alcore Inc. intends to consolidate its headquarters and manufacturing operations in Harford County and hire about 120 new employees by early next year, a move that will nearly double its work force.

Just as importantly, the company's planned June move represents the first significant step in a drive to expand Harford's manufacturing employment base, after years of landing some of Maryland's largest distribution centers.

"Alcore enhances the county's reputation as a place for manufacturers to be," said Paul Gilbert, director of the county's economic development office. "And we feel manufacturing is important because it's part of a balanced economic program. We have distribution centers because of our geographical location, but we also have a solid manufacturing base. It's one of our best-kept secrets."

The county's desire to expand manufacturing is largely a matter of simple arithmetic: Unlike distribution centers, where jobs typically pay roughly $8 per hour, manufacturing jobs usually pay wages in the double digits. Alcore, for instance, pays between $13 and $18 per hour.

Moreover, manufacturing positions have spinoff effects that typically create three jobs for every one manufacturing job, whereas distribution jobs do not, Gilbert said.

As part of a deal to move to the Lakeside Business Park, in Edgewood, Alcore will shutter a Howard County plant and transfer 35 workers to Harford. An existing 80,000-square-foot plant in another Harford business park will continue operating. "We wanted both of our facilities to be near one another so they could in a way be interchangeable," said Edward A. Kiley, Alcore's president. "That's difficult to do if they're 45 minutes to an hour away. This way, we can create efficiencies and hopefully increased profits."

For Lakeside developer FRP Development Corp., Alcore is the first tenant in a 131-acre business park planned to contain as much as 1.5 million square feet. Spurred on by Alcore, FRP intends to develop two speculative buildings there beginning in June, projects that would add 130,000 square feet to the park.

"We were hoping that the park would lend itself to upscale manufacturing, for those companies looking for a different building than pure, down and dirty distribution," said David H. deVilliers Jr., FRP's president. "So Alcore is a perfect fit."

Alcore, which specializes in making aluminum honeycomb products used in airplanes and the aerospace industry, has signed a lease valued at roughly $5.3 million to occupy its Lakeside building through 2008. In addition to containing the office and manufacturing space, Alcore's building will also have research and development space.

The expansion caps a four-year turnaround by the company, which was on the verge of bankruptcy in late 1993 before a new management team began overhauling its operations. Since then, Alcore has converted a $1.5 million loss in 1993 to $4 million in net profit, Kiley said.

But Alcore's new Lakeside project may be only the first in a wave of expansions, thanks to a new capital source and customers such as Boeing Co. Lockheed Martin Corp., and Raytheon Corp. To increase its access to capital, Alcore last October merged with Atlanta-based Advanced Technical Products Inc., a firm with $160 million in annual sales.

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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