While the manufacturing giant Knorr Brake has moved to a new building, the buyers of the old building say the new space will allow them to add about 30 jobs by the end of the year and potentially house a manufacturing center for Carroll Community College students.

Land Sea Air manufacturing purchased the 90,000-square-foot property in the 800 block of Md. 140. The company intends to expand to about 50 employees by the end of the year, Vice President Paul Virtz said. The company currently has a little less than 20 employees.

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Land Sea Air is the merger of three different companies around Westminster to form the company, including East Coast Machining, Seaskate and a developmental engineering wing.

With manufacturing giants like General Dynamics downsizing in recent years, Virtz said he realized there were plenty of local residents who had skills he could use.

Right now, the company focuses about 40 percent of its work on aerospace, he said. Their business model includes about 20 percent defense contracting and the rest to focus on developing their own products, Virtz said.

The company makes fabricated components for aircraft and aerospace industries, with aircraft companies such as Gulfstream, a private jet company, and Boeing.

Virtz worked on the merger to create Land Sea Air Manufacturing after looking around for jobs and realizing the only ones he could succeed in were located at least a half-hour away, or as far as Michigan, he said.

With large companies such as General Dynamics downsizing due to the government hiring less contractors, it seemed like good opportunity to open a manufacturing company that focuses more on the private sector, he said.

The company also wants to use about 20,000-square feet of space for a technical center that could partner with Carroll Community College.

Karen Merkle, the vice president of Continuing Education and Training at Carroll Community College, said the project is still in the planning stages.

The partnership would be a non-credit class that would award a certification from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, Merkle said. Virtz said some of the classes would include blueprint reading and sheet metal fabrication.

"Engineers are a dime a dozen anymore," Virtz said. "Now the world is saturated with Bachelor's degrees and they don't really carry a lot of meaning. There's more need for highly skilled manufacturing labor, because you can design all the greatest things in the world but if you can't produce them, what are you going to do? You're going to outsource them overseas."

The first year, if details get hammered out, would be a pilot year for basic manufacturing, Merkle said. If there are good enrollments, she'd like to look at advanced manufacturing skills as well.

"We haven't dotted the I's and crossed the T's just yet," she said. "I do believe this is proceeding in a very positive way."

Virtz said he'd like his new hires to go through the program, when it eventually gets off the ground. In addition to lending space and 11 machines, some of the people who work for Virtz will be assisting in classes, he said.

He said the intent of the school and buying the Westminster-based property is to bring manufacturing back to the county.

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Virtz and his team were able to move into the $3.5 million space immediately, due to its previous owners.

Walter Patton, a principal at NAI KLNB, a commercial real estate company, said over the last year and a half they showed the property to about 10 different potential buyers who were interested in anything from redeveloping it to making it into a medical office space.

"The building is being reused for the same type of business, which obviously has the potential to employ a fair number of people as opposed to just being a warehouse," Patton said.

Patton said the transition will be near-seamless. Since purchasing the property last week, Virtz and his team immediately moved into the space.

"It just seemed like the perfect fit for us," Virtz said.

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