PDT Staff Writer
Eighteen months ago Pike County had 3.6 million square feet of industrial facility that was vacant. Masco, a cabinet manufacturer and Wausau Homes had moved out, creating the vacant buildings and land. All of that space is now in the progress of being filled with new industries and jobs.
“About a year ago Hadsell Chemicals bought the Wausau Homes facility, and they are now there,” Pike County Commissioner Blaine Beekman said. “Then, last month, the Masco inside Waverly, that’s 2.4 million square feet, sold.”
One of the last pieces of the development puzzle was put into place this week.
“The Zahn’s Corner Industrial Park, a million square foot facility, formerly and part of the Masco property, has been Purchased by Alan Stockmeister of Ohio Precious Metals in Jackson,” Pike County Development Director Chris Ervin said. “They formed a new company, Waverly Environmentals, LLC. It’s the formation of a low-grade scrap metal sampling, refining, smelting and recycling operation.”
Ervin said Stockmeister has ordered manufacturing equipment from Europe that will take at least a year to get the equipment built, shipped and setup.
“So, in that time frame, he’s projecting around 12 jobs in the first year,” Ervin said. “By the third year he’s looking at a hundred full time jobs. And then, they’re even saying, between years 5 and 10, 200 to 500 full time employees.”
Beekman said incentives were part of the reason Waverly Environmentals chose the Pike County location.
“The intriguing thing on the Jackson building is that we were able to offer them (Waverly Environmentals) a Free Trade Zone, because we are part of the Port Authority at Rickenbacker,” Beekman said. “In the companies that import and export, can do their process duty-free. That’s a big incentive.”
Ervin said the rest of the existing Masco site, which is referred to as the Pike Industrial Park, has been purchased by an investor, and is in the process of being developed for the purpose of marketing it to an industry. Reports are that the development partners, Christopher Semarjian, of Cleveland and Stuart Lichter of Los Angeles, purchased the property for $5 million. Joining the partners was Everett Hannah of Varney, West Virginia. According to the Associated Press, the company exports lumber to furniture and flooring manufacturers, and will initially employ up to 28 workers.
Lichter said he couldn’t predict how many companies would lease or buy space at the large industrial property or how many jobs could actually be realized as a result.
Ervin said Geo-Tech Polymers LLC., a Westerville, Ohio-based plastics recycling firm holding an exclusive patented process that dramatically increases the value and range of uses for plastic products from post-industrial and post-consumer waste streams, notably automotive plastics that typically remain in landfills, will be moving into one of the Masco buildings as well. Officials expect to create 50 new jobs in the next couple of years.
“What you won’t see is one large company coming in and taking over the Masco site,” Ervin said. “It will be sectioned off. So it will be a variety of companies on that site.”
When the manufacturers needed to know if the equipment at the cabinetry plant still ran, they called on Waverly Mayor Greg Kempton, who had been a supervisor at the plant for nearly 20 years. Sources said Kempton went into the plant and after working with it, got the equipment operating again.
Beekman credited a government and community that work together.
“It’s the spirit of cooperation you find up here,” Beekman said.
Beekman said he sees the atmosphere in Pike County on the upturn.
“We’re saddled with the highest unemployment rate (11.9 percent in November) in the state, and have been now for the last couple of years,” Beekman said. “And this just makes you really optimistic about 2013.”
That optimism is shared by Ervin.
“We are extremely excited,” Ervin said. “There has been a lot of activity here lately. There’s a lot going on with that Masco site.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at email@example.com