Dietz & Watson near deal for Parks Sausage plant

Park Heights factory sale could be final in less than a week

January 22, 1999|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

The deal to sell Parks Sausage Co.'s Park Heights plant to a Philadelphia deli meat manufacturer is less than a week away from being signed, Parks majority owner Franco Harris said last night.

The plant is scheduled to close this weekend. The price of the sale to Dietz & Watson, a privately owned company that employs about 500 and has more than $100 million in annual sales, was not disclosed.

Harris, a Hall of Fame running back with the Pittsburgh Steelers, said that in the short term, the sale of the 133,000-square-foot factory on Reisterstown Road would mean the loss of 35 to 45 jobs. But after the plant is retooled, Harris said, many more jobs could be available to local workers.

Dietz & Watson, in seeking state financing for the deal, has assured legislators that any current and former Parks Sausage workers would be given preference when the buyer begins hiring at the plant.

"Eventually, when Dietz & Watson buy the plant, they will employ a lot more people than Parks ever did," said Harris. "It's a very positive situation. Overall, the whole picture here could be a lot bigger economically than the [smaller] picture Parks ever had."

Harris was not certain how many workers would be needed if the plant were run at full capacity. He said it would take anywhere from three to six months to make improvements to the building.

As a condition of $750,000 in state "sunny day" financing promised to Dietz & Watson, the company has to employ at least 150 full-time workers by the end of 2001, when the loan converts into a straight grant, according to state economic development officials.

Since Dietz & Watson intend to spend $6.4 million to buy and renovate the plant, employment could be much higher.

The local factory would put Dietz & Watson closer to its Baltimore customers, which include the Giant and Super Fresh grocery chains. The company also is expanding in Philadelphia.

Pub Date: 1/22/99

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