Schaefer acquisition allows expansion into Cape County

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Schaefer's Electrical Enclosures Inc. is expanding its operations into Cape Girardeau County, 20 miles from its current location in Advance, Mo.

The manufacturer of standard and custom sheet metal enclosures finalized a deal Dec. 30 on the purchase of the building at 4860 Nash Road from Moriah Logistics.

Company president Mark Diamond said the move is significant for the company, which employs 130 workers.

"It's an exciting step for us, but a leap of faith as well," Diamond said. "We've experienced tremendous growth in the past 10 years that I've been here, and we've gotten to the point where we needed more space and equipment into one building.

"To get everyone under one roof represents pretty good productivity," he said. "This will put us in a position for growth for the next 10 years."

The company currently operates in three separate buildings in Advance. The expansion will increase its operating space from 55,000 square feet to 105,000 square feet.

Throughout the next several months, the business will transition its manufacturing operations in Advance to the new location. Diamond hopes to complete renovations to the building and move in by May 1. Before then, the company will relocate truck docks, build and tear down walls and construct office space.

Schaefer's will share the facility with Silgan Plastics Corp. and BioKyowa Inc., which will lease space from the company. The Advance location will be used for warehousing operations, though it will no longer have employees working there once the move is complete.

The new location will have new machinery including a laser-cutting machine and an expanded powder coating operation.

Mitch Robinson, director of Cape Girardeau Area Magnet, said that while Advance will suffer from the loss of 130 jobs, the move will better position Schaefer's for future growth.

"The company has been waiting to move to the Cape area to have access to the larger labor pool of the Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Scott City area," he said. "We will be working with them to assist them in every way possible as they move their business to our area.

"It's not without pain for Advance, but for the long term their company decided the move was best," Robinson said. "The bottom line for the future of the company was they wanted to make a move while they could when growth was needed for later."

In December 2007, Schaefer's had hoped to purchase the vacated building at 2075 Corporate Circle in Cape Girardeau owned by Dana Corp. The company submitted a bid of $2.85 million to move into the building, which moved production from the plant to Mexico after seeking protection from the federal bankruptcy court.

However, Plaza Tire Inc. was the high bidder in the end with a $3.25 million bid.

Unlike the failed effort to acquire the Dana building, Diamond said he did not seek a proposal that included a plan for Cape Girardeau to authorize millions of dollars in bonds and a certain percentage of property tax abatements.

Even though a move out of Southeast Missouri was possible, Diamond said relocating the company's operations to another city was not considered an option.

"The reality is if we were willing to move out of the area there were locations that would have given us a building to bring 130 jobs to town," Diamond said. "But a company is much more than a building. It was important our current employees could get wherever they needed to be.

"My home is in Cape, my church is in Cape and I didn't consider locating elsewhere."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

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