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Company takes over former Lowe's distribution center

August 15, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - As many as 150 workers could be employed at the former Lowe's distribution center at 914 S. Burhans Blvd. in Hagerstown by early 2006 as Texas-based Builders FirstSource ramps up production of its residential building product lines at the site, a company official said Thursday.

Douglas Schweinhart, president of the company's Atlantic Group division in Frederick, Md., said a crew of about 30 workers began manufacturing wall panels at the site about two months ago, but the company delayed the announcement because of a pending public stock offering. The company went public June 22 with about 12 million shares at $16 each.

Traded on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol BLDR, its stock price closed Friday at $18.47.

Schweinhart said the company, which operates three other sites in the Frederick area, selected the Lowe's site because of its rail access and the ability to easily convert the former distribution center for manufacturing use. Raw material is shipped to the facility by train, manufactured at the facility and then sent to other sites by truck, he said. By January, he said, he expects the facility will be producing two lines of residential wall panels and another line of prefabricated roof trusses.

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"We needed rail access and we needed a building that was ready to go," he said. "Our business has been expanding and we needed additional capacity."

The company is leasing the site from The Bowman Group, whose president, David Taylor, could not be reached for comment last week. Lowe's moved its distribution center to a larger facility, also on Burhans Boulevard, in October 2004.

Deborah Everhart, director of economic development for the City of Hagerstown, said the city approved a right-of-way agreement on Aug. 23 to allow Builders FirstSource to use a portion of city property at Burhans Boulevard and Virginia Avenue for its operations. She said the city was excited by the company's decision to open the plant in Hagerstown.

"It's very good news and they can grow up to a maximum of 200 (workers)," Everhart said.

Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said he was pleased by the announcement and particularly by the shift from distribution jobs under Lowe's to manufacturing jobs with Builders FirstSource.

"I think it's a real nice win for the city, as well as for the county," Troxell said. "It's also nice to see what was used for warehousing and distribution is actually going to be used for manufacturing."

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