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Hardware plant planned for W.Va.

March 26, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County officials say it's too early to confirm that a Tennessee hardware company will build a new distribution center in the Eastern Panhandle, despite a company annoucement that the plant is coming.

The plant would employ at least 200 people.

Talks are under way about possible sites for a 500,000-square-foot distribution center for Orgill Inc., but the negotiations still "could go sour," said Berkeley County Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart.

After Berkeley County's failed attempt to lure a Frito Lay plant to the community in 1996, officials should avoid becoming overconfident about economic development projects, said Commission President D. Wayne Dunham.

Limited water and sewer service in Berkeley County caused Frito Lay to scratch plans for a factory and distribution center near Martinsburg that would have employed about 800 people.

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The company instead built the facility in Lynchburg, Va.

"It's a little premature to say anything about it. You have to be a little pessimistic until something is signed," Dunham said.

Orgill would be a great addition to the local economy, Dunham said.

"It would be my hope they would locate here because it would be 200-plus jobs," Dunham said.

The Martinsburg plant will be completed by next year, according to a statment from William M. Fondren Jr., president of Orgill.

Fondren could not be reached for comment Friday.

An Orgill official who refused to give his name said the deal "is pretty solid" and that the company already has notified its customers that the new Martinsburg plant will be built.

Orgill acquired the Frederick Trading Co. in Frederick, Md., last September to use as a distribution center but the building cannot be expanded, the company official said.

There are no solid estimates on what the wages will be for employees.

The distribution center will house about every kind of hardware. Goods will be loaded onto tractor-trailers for delivery to retailers, a company official said.

Orgill's move to the Interstate 81 corridor will greatly improve the company's efforts to expand into states in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, according to Fondren.

Orgill also has distribution centers in Tifton, Ga., and Vandalia Ill., and an 800,000-square-foot warehouse in Memphis, Tenn., where the company has its headquarters.

Founded in 1847, Orgill is the largest privately held wholesale hardware distributor in the United States.

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