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Lenox to expand operations

February 06, 2001|By JULIE E. GREENE

Lenox to expand operations



WILLIAMSPORT - Lenox Inc. plans to open an $18 million to $20 million distribution center in January 2002 that will create 120 jobs within two years, officials announced Tuesday

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The new distribution center will be built across the street from the existing one in the Interstate Industrial Park near Williamsport.

The existing center employs from 185 people up to 270 people during the busy season, from July to November, said Robert A. Sanders, manager of the Lenox Distribution Center.

"Lenox is staying here in Washington County," Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said during his State of the County address Tuesday morning at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel on Dual Highway.

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More important than the expansion, Snook said, is the 185 jobs that will remain.

Lenox officials want to consolidate the company's distribution centers to improve cost efficiency and customer service, Sanders said. They were looking within a 100-mile radius, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, and selected the Williamsport site.

They decided last Friday to remain and expand in Washington County, Sanders said.

"The quality of our people was the determining factor" in choosing Washington County, Sanders said. "We've got a great work force."

Both Washington County and the state of Maryland will make financial contributions to keep and expand Lenox in the county, said Tim Troxell, assistant director for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

Troxell would not elaborate on the deal the county has been negotiating with the company since last June, but said the details may be available in about a month.

Two distribution centers in New Jersey, two in North Carolina and one in Rhode Island will be consolidated to the new distribution center near Williamsport, Sanders said. The Lenox headquarters is in New Jersey.

Those five centers employ about 100 people and up to 150 during the busy season, Sanders said. Some of those workers will remain to assist the manufacturing plants in those areas.

Sanders said jobs at the new distribution center will be offered to employees at those five distribution centers, but he doubts the workers will want to move.

Lenox, which makes and imports fine china, crystal, flatware, silver products, gifts and collectibles, has been in Washington County since 1976, officials said.

The $18 million to $20 million investment Lenox will make in building the new 300,000-square-foot plant will be the single largest financial commitment in the company's history, Sanders said.

The groundbreaking is expected to occur by early May, Sanders said.

The center will open with about 75 employees and that number will increase to up to 120 total employees during the company's busy season, he said.

The average pay at the 16604 Industrial Lane distribution center is $11.73 an hour, he said.

Lenox officials also will check into what training funding is available, Sanders said.

For more information about Lenox, visit www.lenox.com.

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