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Pet toy company moving to Baltimore County

Pet toy company moving to Baltimore County
Terry Gao, president of Caitec Corp., inside his company’s new warehouse and headquarters in Halethorpe. (Jon Bleiweis/BSMG)

Caitec Corp., a pet supply and garden products company, is moving its headquarters from Baltimore City to Halethorpe.

The company outgrew its 40,000-square foot warehouse in the city's Morrell Park area, said Caitec President Terry Gao.

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Caitec's distribution and offices will be based at a 110,000-square foot Hollins Ferry Road warehouse that had been rented seasonally by the Postal Service.

"Without this building, we cannot carry out our business plan," he said. Gao said he hopes to double sales of its branded products by 2020 but declined to elaborate.

He would not disclose revenues of the privately held company. Gao expects the move will be completed in mid-September.

Caitec's products are manufactured in the United States, China and India and shipped to Maryland for distribution. Gao said some manufacturing may move to the Halethorpe warehouse, but not immediately.

Caitec started 25 years ago as a producer of bird toys and it started selling its dog products about six years ago. About 70 percent of the company's business is manufacturing bird and dog toys, with about 700 bird-related products, such as food, toys and cages and 300 dog-related products, sold under the Hero Dog Toys and Chase 'N Chomp product lines.

Caitec products are sold on its website and are distributed to retailers, including Wal-Mart, Petco and Amazon.

According to the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet, an increase from 56 percent in 1988. Sixty million households have dogs, while 7.9 million households have birds, according to the APPA.

Pet industry spending has been on a gradual rise in the last decade, from $41.2 billion in 2007 to an estimated $69.4 billion this year, according to the APPA. Last year, $66.8 billion was spent.

The other 30 percent of Caitec's business is manufacturing lawn, garden and pest-control products for other companies. Gao declined to name the products, brands or where they are manufactured.

The company had looked for space in Curtis Bay and Jessup and almost bought a building in Woodlawn before settling on the Halethorpe warehouse, Gao said.

The building, purchased for $5.5 million, was owned by Exeter Property Group, a Conshohocken, Pa.-based commercial real estate company. With the exception of seasonal use by the United States Postal Service, the property had been vacant for two years, according to Exeter.

The warehouse was built in 1961, according to state property records, and last renovated in 2015, according to a listing from Exeter Property Group.

About 12,000 square feet will be used for office space for 12 of the company's employees. The company plans to hire two more people this year, expanding its on-site staff from eight to 14 within 2017. Caitec has three sales representatives who work outside the Baltimore location.

Fronda Cohen, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development, said space is often a reason why companies will move from Baltimore City to Baltimore County.

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"Any company has specific real estate requirements, and if you're working at a company that is doing logistics and warehouse distribution, they're going to say they need large spaces," she said. "They know down the line in their business plan they will be adding products or customers or adding workers and are anticipating growth spurts."

Gao said he was not offered incentives from the county to move his business.



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