John Stull drove around the property of the former Cambridge Rubber Co. in Taneytown talking non-stop about how perfect the structure known in town as the Dunbar Building would be for his rapidly growing recycling business.
But after several months of negotiating to rent the building, the Cambridge, Mass., owners decided the idea was not so perfect for them.
"I thought we were doing business up until last week," said Mr. Stull, owner and operator of J&J; Recycling of Pennsylvania. "They just up and told me they decided not to rent. But they still have the signs up on the property asking for people to call them [about leasing the property]."
Mr. Stull, a 56-year-old former truck driver, has been trying to expand his 6-year-old business -- which recycles aluminum cans, plastic, glass bottles and the liquids that fill them -- since 1991.
He said he has discussed both buying and renting the building with a liaison for the owners, the caretaker of the vacant buildings on the 14-acre parcel off York Street.
The caretaker visited his Pennsylvania facility, Mr. Stull said, and gave him a tour of the Taneytown structure.
But the caretaker said the property owners were no longer negotiating with Mr. Stull.
"We've got other people interested in renting the building and we're not interested in dealing with him at all at this time," said the man, who refused to give his name.
Numerous attempts to contact Robert W. MacPherson and Joseph A. Tansey, listed in county tax assessment records as trustees of the property, were unsuccessful.
Mr. Stull said he is disappointed, but not discouraged. He's been through much harder times.
He used to run his business with his son Jim and wife, Doris, at his Black's Schoolhouse Road home. And everything was done by hand.
"My wife used to sort things. We had to borrow a tractor to haul the trailers out, and we crushed and baled by hand," Mr. Stull said of his early years in business. "We did it all for ourselves back then. I'm used to obstacles."
Now, Mr. Stull works a seven-day schedule between his two plants, kept busy by contracts with the local bottlers of Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Shasta soda, and New Jersey bottlers of Ocean Spray drinks.
"Sometimes they have a bad run, put the wrong labels on bottles or the wrong soda in a labeled can," Mr. Stull said. "They can't use them," so the bottlers pay him to haul them away.
His Baltimore facility extracts the liquids or other biodegradable contents. Then the "dry products" are taken to Mr. Stull's plant near Hanover, Pa., to be processed, baled and sold to larger recycling operations.
Mr. Stull said he mixes all the liquid products together and gives the mixture to farmers. Some of them mix it with cattle and hog feed, while others mix it with fertilizer.
"I've got one guy who puts it on his field," Mr. Stull said of a farmer in Astor, Pa. "It does wonders for a hay field."
The Taneytown plant would have been equipped to do all the processing in one place, Mr. Stull said.
"The building is about 3,800 square feet and has maybe five acres of property with it," said Mr. Stull, looking out at the building through the window of his company truck. "There are railroad tracks behind it, too, which makes it good for transporting.
"It's also set up for drains, and we use a lot of water to rinse the
liquids out of the glass and things," Mr. Stull said.
The caretaker would not discuss why Mr. Stull was no longer being considered as a prospective renter, and Mr. Stull said he was not given an explantion.
But when Mr. Stull went before the Taneytown City Council on Aug. 9 to discuss his plans, the mayor and council said the property owners have backed out of negotiations before.
Mayor Henry I. Reindollar Jr. said the owners don't appear to want to negotiate with anyone for the property.
"When he [Mr. Stull] came to the council to talk about his business, it ran through my mind, 'Are you sure they want to sell?' " Mr. Reindollar said. He said the city had negotiated to buy the building at one point but could not come terms with the owners.
Although the negotiations have come to a halt, Mr. Stull still speaks longingly of the many possibilities for his business and for Taneytown's recycling program.
"I would have been a good asset to this town. They could have used me for their own recycling for no extra cost," Mr. Stull said. "It's costing the city a lot of money to maintain that area for recycling [in Taneytown Memorial Park], and I would be doing it for nothing because I'd have to do it for my own things anyway."