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Pa. Modular plant gets new owner

April 26, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County manufacturer of hydraulic dump trailers will be moving into the former Pennsylvania Modular Homes plant later this summer.

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Bri-Mar Manufacturing Inc. will move into the 110,000-square-foot building by the end of July, according to President Brian Wise of Chambersburg. Wise said Sunday he is buying the building and leasing half of it to the investment group that owns Bri-Mar.

Wise said he is buying the plant for $1.28 million from New York-based DRI Holding Co. The building at 1080 S. Main St. had been home to Pennsylvania Modular Homes Inc. until February, when owner William D. French closed the plant in order to form a new company in Middleburg, Pa.

Wise said he will spend $200,000 to $300,000 on improvements to the property.

More than 100 employees had worked for Pennsylvania Modular Homes before it began cutting back jobs in the months before it closed.

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Wise said Bri-Mar now employs about 40 workers and will hire about 30 more at the new plant. He said welders, metal fabricators, assemblers and other workers earn an average of more than $30,000 a year with the company.

"We're 4 years old, but we're growing rapidly and we're running out of space," Wise said. He and Marcus Blank started the business as a partnership in February 1995 in a barn Wise owned.

Bri-Mar later moved to a 5,000-square-foot shop at 330 Wolf Ave., eventually expanding to its current 26,000 square feet in the same building, Wise said.

Now owned by an investment group, Bri-Mar should top $10 million in sales this year, Wise said. In 1998 the company produced about 3,000 units with 200 dealerships in 38 states.

Wise predicted sales should reach about $15 million in 2000, and over the next five years he predicted the company will expand to 150 employees and annual sales of $30 million.

"Our end-users are contractors and landscapers," said Wise, who previously worked for Jerr-Dan Corp., in Greencastle, Pa., and E-Z Dumper Inc. in Zullinger, Pa. The trailers are small enough to be pulled by pickups or other vehicles, he said.

Wise said he is in negotiations with three other companies to lease the other half of the building. One of those is Architectural Designs Inc. of Arlington, Va.

Architectural Designs Chairman Miles MacIntyre said earlier this month his company was one of the bidders on the building. He said the company wants to manufacture upscale houses costing up to $1 million at the plant, selling them to buyers in the greater Washington, D.C., area.

MacIntyre said his company would like to rehire many of the Pennsylvania Modular workers. He said his company would pay $12 to $16 an hour for factory workers and $18 to $24 an hour for the crews that would assemble the homes on site.

For the past two years Bri-Mar has been listed by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the 100 fastest growing companies in the country, according to Wise.

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