A fast-growing railing company with a factory in Millville plans to ask for state incentives to help it move into a bigger space at the former Lenox China plant in Galloway Township.
Railing Dynamics Inc., based in Egg Harbor Township, has an agreement with investment firm BTR Tilton LLC to buy the long-vacant plant on Tilton Road that made china and ceramics between 1953 and 2005.
Railing Dynamics co-founder Chris Terrels, of Ocean City, said the move would help the company meet its expansion needs. The company would consolidate its Egg Harbor Township headquarters and Millville production and distribution center in the Galloway Township factory.
Railing Dynamics Inc. is owned by Barrette Outdoor Living, based in Ohio.
Terrels said his company plans to apply for state economic-development grants to make the capital investment needed to convert the plant for his business needs. RDI makes and packages aluminum-reinforced vinyl railings, porch posts and accessories that are sold in kits to contractors and do-it-yourselfers across North America.
Terrels and his late brother, Andy, started the business out of a van in 1989 while they were working as home-building contractors in Ocean City.
Today, the company employs about 80 people in Egg Harbor Township and Millville, where it has a 90,000-square-foot factory.
Terrels said the goal is to retain the work force he has in Millville. Ideally, those workers would commute the 23 miles to the new Galloway Township plant.
“That old building has been a blight on the community. Galloway had done some things to make it more saleable for redevelopment,” he said.
About 285 employees of Lenox were laid off when the factory closed in 2005. Galloway Township has long tried to redevelop the sprawling property in the intervening years. One proposal was to turn it into an industrial park called the Heron Crossing Center.
“Galloway is excited to take this project abandoned since 2005 and bring life back to it to get jobs and people working,” Mayor Don Purdy said.
Purdy said he will enlist the support of Atlantic County freeholders to promote the redevelopment of the old factory.
“We have been in talks with the county executive. The county executive has given support for the project,” he said.
The former Lenox plant offers 430,000 square feet of space but would require an investment of as much as $15 million for renovations, Terrels said.
“The next step is to go to the state to see what incentives are available,” he said.
Terrels said states such as Kentucky and Tennessee have offered his company $10 million in incentives to leave New Jersey.
“Sight unseen,” he said. “With money on the table from other states, it would be easy to relocate.”
But Terrels said he would prefer to stay in South Jersey.
The growing company has the potential to add as many as 300 additional jobs as it ramps up production, he said.
The plant’s proximity to Atlantic City International Airport could open it up to potential redevelopment dollars. The plant’s expansion would bring comparatively high-paying jobs to a depressed Atlantic County economy that has seen massive cutbacks in the casino industry, Terrels said.
“Galloway really lives off Atlantic City’s casino industry. This would be more sustainable job growth for Galloway Township,” he said.
Terrels declined to disclose the tentative sale price for the Lenox building. A 2011 auction failed to find any bidders at $2.5 million. The building sold to BTR for $7 million in 2006.
Today the plant and its 58 acres are assessed at $4.6 million.
Railing Dynamics planned to formally present its proposal to Galloway Township officials Tuesday.
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