Wood products maker to open plant in Carroll

Canadian firm will use London Fog complex

October 19, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

One of the largest wood products manufacturers in North America is opening a plant in the abandoned London Fog complex in Eldersburg, bringing with it the promise of as many as 100 jobs.

The Moulding and Millwork Co., a subsidiary of Sauder Industries, has signed a 10-year lease for 81,000 square feet on Londontown Boulevard. The woodworking company is making significant changes to the one-time distribution center, adapting it for a manufacturing operation.

The company, which is based in British Columbia and expects to hire about 40 employees initially, organized a job fair Friday and yesterday with Carroll's economic development department. The plant should be operating by early December, company officials said.

Because of its location and the work force, South Carroll suits Sauder Industries' plans for expansion in the Baltimore area, said Matthew Sauder, vice president of the family-owned company, which has many plants throughout the United States.

"The long-term strategy is to expand and within five years employ about 100 people," Sauder said.

Moulding and Millwork, which says it's the largest distributor of wood moldings in North America, is also opening a 280,000-square-foot distribution center in Columbia, he said.

"We have two new divisions in the state to help with our operations," Sauder said. "We wanted locations reasonably close to our markets and the port of Baltimore."

Sauder Industries was also impressed with Carroll's work force, he said. Plans call for hiring entry-level and skilled woodworkers at competitive hourly rates, county officials said.

Robert Oare, vice president of Trammell Crow Co. in Baltimore, who helped broker the lease deal, said the pool of employees helped Carroll beat many locations vying for the company. He declined to identify the other locations.

Brett Rowland, general manager for the new operation, said the surrounding industrial land, the location near state highways and Interstate 70, and the proximity to Baltimore made the site attractive.

The Eldersburg building was, until a year ago, the distribution center for London Fog Industries Inc. When the outerwear manufacturer moved its operations to Seattle, 150 jobs were lost.

"Sauder is an international company and a really big deal for us," said Jack Lyburn, Carroll's director of economic development. "We are also excited that they are reusing a building and changing it from distribution to manufacturing. This fits in with our strategic plan to attract high-end manufacturing."

As an incentive, the county offered the Moulding and Millwork Co. a $50,000 training grant, he said. The money comes from a state-county partnership that helps bring business to Maryland.

"It is a great example of how the state works with local economic development," said Aris Melissaratos, Maryland's secretary of business and economic development.

The Moulding and Millwork Co. chose the smallest building in the former London Fog complex. A two-story office building and a large warehouse - nearly 300,000 square feet in all - remain vacant.

Meanwhile, a company operating next door to the site is expanding its business, he said.

Dal-Tile International Inc. has broken ground on a 200,000- square-foot warehouse, its second in the Eldersburg Business Center, along Route 32. The addition will bring to 525,000 square feet the space the Dallas-based tile manufacturer leases in Carroll County.

Carroll's industrial tax base, which at 12 percent was the lowest in the metropolitan area last year, has increased significantly since then, Lyburn said, though exact figures are not available. Industrial growth outpaced commercial last year, accounting for 65 percent of the economic development, he said.

Melissaratos praised Carroll for balancing the growth of manufacturing and service industries with the goal of maintaining the county's rural feel.

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