Phoenix Color plans to expand Washington County stands to gain up to 600 jobs

Manufacturing

April 08, 1998|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

Phoenix Color Corp. said yesterday that it will embark on a multimillion-dollar expansion plan in Washington County that could add as many as 600 jobs over five years.

The Hagerstown-based book-component manufacturer plans to spend as much as $100 million over the next seven years for a new complex on an 80-acre tract along Interstate 81, near the Washington County Regional Airport. The company said it will spend about $38 million to finish the first of three project phases by November. The first phase includes the construction of a 175,000-square-foot plant and a multistory office building.

"We were looking at other areas," said Louis LaSorsa, the company's chairman and chief executive officer. "But the Washington County location and being close to I-81 is of enormous value to us."

The first phase will almost double manufacturing plant space for Phoenix Color, which currently has two plants in Hagerstown totaling about 200,000 square feet.

By the end of 1999, the company expects to add 200 workers to its current contingent of 385. Phoenix Color's jobs pay about $12 to $13 an hour -- above average for the area, company officials said.

LaSorsa did not set a timetable for the additional 400 jobs, but said it is realistic to expect them within five years.

LaSorsa said a "first-class work force" and cooperative state and local economic development officials figured prominently in the company's selection of Washington County. He would not discuss terms of the state's economic development package. State officials could not be reached for comment on the details of the economic package.

In a written statement, Gov. Parris N. Glendening called the project "one of many economic development successes in Washington County that include Staples' new distribution facility and expansions by such companies as First Data Merchant Services and Hub Labels."

As part of the deal, Washington County will spend $1.5 million to build a corporate aircraft hangar on airport property to be leased by Phoenix Color. The county also will "assist with other infrastructure items," the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Office said in a statement.

"We recognize that this was a competitive opportunity for Washington County to win or lose, and appreciate the faith and trust that Phoenix Color placed in us," said Gregory I. Snook, president of the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

Founded in 1979, Phoenix Color has been based in the Western Maryland city since 1992. The privately held company, which also has plants in Long Island City, N.Y., and Taunton, Mass., had sales of about $108 million in 1997. The company said its net sales grew by more than $63 million between 1993 and 1997.

The company has manufactured paperback covers, book jackets, hard-back case covers and other products for Simon & Shuster, Random House Inc., McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc. and Time Warner Inc.

With construction of its new project, known as "Book Technology Park," Phoenix Color will expand its product line by manufacturing soft-covered books.

Pub Date: 4/08/98

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