Firm eyes Arundel site for factory


An Anne Arundel County site near Laurel has emerged as the leading prospect for a Canadian plastics-equipment maker looking to build a factory that could employ more than 1,000 workers, according to Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary.

Mr. Gary said he discussed the project this week with Howard County-based developer Kingdon Gould, who told him that Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. of Ontario has narrowed its search for a factory site down to five candidates, two of them in Maryland.

Husky, based in Bolton, near Toronto, is the world's second-largest manufacturer of injection molding equipment -- machines used to convert plastic resin into a range of useful products from auto bumpers to refrigerator interiors.

"Apparently we're the A-site," Mr. Gary said of a parcel of commercially zoned property once used by the Laurel Sand & Gravel company at the Southwest corner of Maryland 32 and the Baltimore Washington Parkway.

Mr. Gary said he was told the factory could eventually employ 2,000 people. But another source familiar with the plans said the company has used a working number of 1,000 employees.

A company spokeswoman declined to estimate the size of the factory but said that the 2,000 figure -- which would more than double the company's payroll -- seemed too high.

The spokeswoman, Catherine Graydon, said no final decision has been made where to build the factory but that the company is committed to the project.

The company is considering sites in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Mr. Gary said. The other Maryland site, in the northern part of the state, has apparently been edged out by Anne Arundel site due to its proximity to the Port of Baltimore, which the company hopes to ship through, according to one source familiar with the plans.

After suffering through doldrums in the beginning of the decade, the plastics industry roared back to life last year and expects another strong year in 1995. Shipments of injection molding machinery increased 25 percent last year, according to the Machinery Division of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., a trade group.

"Plastics has been a pretty good business for a couple of years," said Alexander Paris Sr., an industrial machinery analyst and president of Barrington Research Associates Inc. of Barrington, Ill.

U.S. industry has shown a preference in recent years to upgrade equipment and plant efficiency instead of opening new factories, he said. This, and an acceptance of plastics for a growing range of uses, has benefited makers of injection molding equipment and other machinery, he said.

Husky's sales for the year ending last July were up 29 percent, to $398 million, exceeding a five-year average annual growth rate of 22 percent. The company is projecting sales of $500 million this year and $700 million next year. Husky is privately owned and does not release profit figures.

Husky has manufacturing plants in Bolton, Ontario; Auburn, Mass.; and Buffalo, N.Y. It also has facilities in Luxembourg and Germany. It has sales and service offices in Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and the United States.

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