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West Marine distribution center in Hagerstown to shut down in December

August 12, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN -- A distribution company just outside of Hagerstown with 40 employees is closing.

West Marine Inc., at 19224 Longmeadow Road, will be closed as the company consolidates to a facility in South Carolina, said Rob Ferree, deputy director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

The layoffs will come in phases, and the business is expected to be shut down by Dec. 15.

Laurie Fried, spokeswoman for West Marine Inc., said the Hagerstown distribution center is the only one of the company's three centers being closed.

The business, which distributes marine and boating products, has been in Hagerstown since 1986. It was called Boat America Corp. until West Marine Inc. purchased the company's retail, catalog and wholesale divisions in 2003.

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Boat America Corp. also did business as BoatU.S.

West Marine Inc. is based in California.

Ferree said the closing of the Hagerstown location was driven by the current economic downturn, but it is not an indication of a trend for the area. The Longmeadow Road location distributes to retail stores in the Northeast that have reported declining sales, he said.

Ferree said that when the economy slumps, consumers tend not to spend money on luxury items, like boats.

Fried described the market as "tough," and said that increasing fuel costs are partly to blame.

"Sales aren't as strong as we would have hoped," she said.

Employees being laid off from the local company are being offered positions at the South Carolina location, Fried said.

"This is no indication of a trend," Ferree said. "In fact, I think that most of the distribution centers (in the area) are doing fine and perhaps they're still doing some hiring."

Kellogg Co. is opening a warehouse distribution center near Hagerstown this summer that will employ about 50 people, The Herald-Mail has reported.

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