In Hagerstown since 1922, C.M. Offray's local manufacturing and distribution operations employ about 575 workers.
The plan is to gradually build the work force, with all new jobs expected to be filled by the end of February 2000, Sutherland said.
More than 99 percent of the jobs will be filled with people new to the company, including all but three managers who are transferring from other C.M. Offray facilities, he said.
Based in Chester, N.J., the company has plants in Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama and Canada.
Aware of the company's consolidation plans, economic developers have been crossing their fingers as they've worked for the new jobs to come to Hagerstown rather than one of the other Offray plants, said Thomas B. Riford, marketing director for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.
"To choose Hagerstown is just terrific. We couldn't be more pleased," said Riford, who said the decision speaks well of the state and local business climates.
Fostering development of existing businesses and industries has been the commission's top strategic priority for the past several years, he said.
Most new jobs in the United States are created by business expansions not new companies, Riford said.
Over time, many of C.M. Offray's operations - including engineering, production control, credit, customer service and purchasing - have been centralized in Hagerstown, Sutherland said.
It is now considered the company's manufacturing headquarters, he said.
Designed to better serve customers, the company's strategic plan includes consolidating key ribbon distribution in Hagerstown and reengineering workflow processes to improve efficiency and turnaround time, Sutherland said.
The manufacturing expansion in Hagerstown includes both ribbon for C.M. Offray and for Lion, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company well known in the floral industry, he said.
Expanding operations and employment won't require a physical expansion of its plant on Willow Circle in the Hagerstown Industrial Park thanks to an acquisition of an additional 100,000 square feet several years ago, Sutherland said.
That acquisition wasn't in preparation for the consolidation, he said.
The company's multi-pronged recruiting strategy will include running advertisements and participating in job fairs, Sutherland said.
Applications will be accepted at the plant, he said.
Despite the tight labor market, the company hasn't experienced problems in hiring needed workers in the past, Sutherland said.
He believes that's due to the combination of competitive wages, a "very progressive" benefits package, including outstanding medical benefits and 401(k) plans, and the fact that its shifts don't rotate.