By NATALIE SHERMAN AND BLAIR AMES and Baltimore Sun Media Group
Jan 13, 2014 | 8:37 PM
A global company that manufactures spice concoctions for the food industry is building a new North American headquarters in Hampstead, relocating its operations from Baltimore County.
The German-based Fuchs Group, which bought Old Bay creator Baltimore Spice in 1990, will close its two Baltimore County locations, consolidating its business in a new, larger, 200,000-square-foot facility on a 20-acre property in the North Carroll Business Park that is currently farmland.
Construction in Carroll County could start by the end of the year, Fuchs North America CEO Dan Cooper said.
"Our success in growing the company into one of the leading developers of seasonings in the food industry has necessitated this move," Cooper said. "Relocating to a new, upgraded facility will allow us to continue that progress and position ourselves for future growth opportunities, creating more jobs in the process.
The announcement follows last week's news that clothing firm Tom James Co. is opening a national distribution center in Carroll County's Westminster and expanding another operation there.
Meanwhile the Hampstead-based Jos. A. Bank Clothiers is locked in a fight for its future with Men's Wearhouse, which rejected Bank's initial offer to buy the company with a counterproposal and this month initiated a hostile takeover. A Men's Wearhouse takeover likely would lead to job losses in Hampstead.
"It certainly is welcome news in the wake of all that uncertainty," District 2 Commissioner Haven Shoemaker said. "We continue to hope that the Jos. A. Bank situation turns out for the best, but in the meantime we've been able to attract what I consider to be a very good corporate partner for our community."
The land, which is owned by the county and close to North Carroll High School, is currently leased by a farmer, but has been targeted for industrial development for years, Shoemaker said.
"It's a big project for Hampstead," he said. "It's certainly a long time in coming."
Fuchs is expected to spend at least $16 million on land acquisition and construction, according to the terms of a $500,000, 3 percent interest loan provided by Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development. Carroll County's Economic Development Department also gave the company a $50,000 training grant.
The firm employs 168 people in the Baltimore area. It must retain at least 150 permanent jobs at the site through 2018 as another condition of the state loan.
Hampstead Mayor Chris Nevin said Fuchs' move shows the area remains a good location for business, despite the uneasiness about Bank, which at 780 employees is the fourth largest employer in the county and the largest in the town.
"I wouldn't say it's a weight off my mind, but I think … this relocation goes to show that Hampstead and Carroll County are viewed positively for business," Nevin said. "The Bank's-Men's Wearhouse issue is company-specific. It's not in any way related to the market or attractiveness of the area."
Baltimore Spice was founded in 1939 by Gustav Brunn, the German immigrant who created Old Bay seasoning. The company moved to its Reisterstown Road location in 1959 and expanded in 1979. In 1990, Hanson Industries, the owner at the time, broke up the company, selling the Reisterstown operation to Fuchs and the Old Bay formula, trademark and consumer business to McCormick & Co. In the past seven years, while under the Fuchs Group umbrella, sales of Fuchs North America have grown almost 50 percent, Cooper said.
Cooper said the company did not want to inconvenience current employees by moving too far, but needed a big enough parcel to expand. The company owns a roughly 80,000-square-foot property in Owings Mills and leases another 75,000 square feet.
"There are just not that many pieces of land that are available," he said. "This location in Hampstead kind of just rose to the top."
The new building will be LEED-certified and include a new research and development center, in addition to the corporate headquarters and Baltimore-area manufacturing. The company will sell its current property, Cooper said.