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News Maryland Carroll County Westminster

Newly formed company purchases former Knorr building

A recently formed corporation is the new owner of the former Knorr Brake Corp. building on Baltimore Boulevard in Westminster.

Land Sea Air Manufacturing, a company fabricating components for the aircraft and aerospace industries as well as defense contracting firms, purchased the 90,000 square foot office, warehouse and manufacturing facility earlier this month for $3.5 million.

East Coast Manufacturing, previously located on Airport Drive with a small machining facility on Locust Street, will relocate its 16 workers to the Baltimore Boulevard location.

Land Sea Air is a combination of East Coast Manufacturing and new ventures, according to Paul Virtz, vice president for Land Sea Air.

Virtz said he and his business partner, Todd Paul, decided to locate in Westminster because they are both Carroll County residents and the quality of the workforce was attractive.

"The skill sets that are available here give us a good opportunity to hire the right people," he said.

The employee base is expected to triple over the next year with Land Sea Air expecting to hire 30 to 50 machinists, sheet metal fabricators and welders, among other positions, according to Virtz.

Virtz said the average annual salary for the new employees intended to be hired will be "extremely competitive for the Carroll County marketplace."

The current inventory of components the company produces includes bulkheads, fittings, pieces for aircraft wings, air frames and landing gear.

After earning $2 million a year in recent years, Virtz said Land Sea Air is expecting $6 million in earnings by the end of the year.

"Conditions are ideal within our industry that presents tremendous opportunities for organizations that are nimble and can react quickly to changing customer requirements," Virtz said in a statement. "We are working quickly to retro-fit this building and expect to be fully operational in this new space by June."

Employees began moving in shortly after Knorr moved out in early April.

Walter Patton, a principal of NAI KLNB which handled the sale, said this is a "win-win for Carroll County and the State of Maryland on multiple levels."

"The (Knorr) company's former building, without a new owner, could have sat vacant for a number of years or been eventually demolished for a commercial re-use. Land Sea Air is taking advantage of the existing equipment and office layout for a near seamless transition that will keep this facility fully-functioning," Patton said in a statement.

Patton said he fielded "numerous inquiries" from companies looking to redevelop the building.

"The acquisition by Land Sea Air retains the consistent use of the building as a manufacturing operation, preserves existing jobs and lays the foundation for the hiring of more than 30 new workers. It is a fantastic economic development story," he said.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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