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International firm-tannery's owner-to be headquartered here

February 08, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

An international spin-off company, which includes Garden State Tanning, of Williamsport, will be headquartered in Hagerstown.

Robert Stift, of Hagerstown, current chief executive officer of U.S. Industries Diversified, will lead the company spun off from Iselin, N.J.-based U.S. Industries Inc.

The company holdings include U.S. International Bath and Plumbing Products, Lighting Corporation of America and U.S. Hardware and Tools.

The new company will be named Strategic industries LLC. , Stift said.

The spin-off company, 11 companies, including Garden State, that comprise the U.S. Industries Diversified division, will have annual revenues of $900 million, Stift said.

Stift was formerly president of Grove Worldwide Inc. of Shady Grove, Pa., before it was purchased by Fort Worth, Texas-based Keystone, Inc. in April 1998. He then became chairman of U.S. Industries Diversified, he said.

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Stift has a staff of fewer than 10 housed in a 3,500-square-foot office at 18223 Shawley Drive leased from Hub Labels Inc. He has worked out of that office since he joined U.S. Industries Diversified, he said.

The agreement for him to lead the new company hinged on him not having to leave Hagerstown, he said.

"That was part of the deal. I wasn't going to move," he said.

He will remain at the same location and doesn't plan to increase staffing, he said. The spin-off will use some employees, including accountants, based in Iselin, N. J., he said.

The spin-off company originally was to be sold to U.S. Industries' shareholders but instead was purchased by Vectura Holdings LLC, a Citicorp Venture Capital portfolio company, for $600 million in a transaction to be completed late this month.

"For a major corporation, with this kind of financial backing and sales, to be headquartered in Washington County, speaks very well for our business climate. Mr. Stift is to be congratulated for helping lead his new company into the next century," said Tom Riford, marketing director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

Tuesday, it was announced that Garden State Tanning, which produces leather for automobiles, is adding more than 75 jobs at its Williamsport facilities on Clear Spring Road and at Interstate Industrial Park.

The company said it is adding workers because it signed a long-term contract with the automobile manufacturer Acura.

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