Local company plans expansion into Theisen Industrial Park

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By Steve Robb Messenger Staff Journalist

 

 

A local company has expansion plans and is in the process of purchasing vacant buildings at Theisen Industrial Park near The Plains.

QuickLoadz, a company in Nelsonville that produces high-tech trailers for moving shipping containers, will be purchasing the former Gem Coatings buildings at the industrial park, according to QuickLoadz CEO Sean Jones.

The property has been in receivership as part of a foreclosure action in Athens County Common Pleas Court, and Judge George McCarthy last Friday approved a purchase agreement and authorized sale of the property by the receiver. According to the purchase agreement, the property is being sold for $300,000.

Closing of the purchase has not yet taken place.

QuickLoadz trailers can automatically load and unload shipping containers and can be controlled with a cell phone, according to Jones, who invented the product. The company received its patent in 2013, and among its customers are United Van Lines and the U.S. Army.

Jones said the Nelsonville building (a former LS Store) is not well-suited for production, while part of the Gem Coatings site was designed for industrial manufacturing. The move will quadruple the company’s space.

This year the company will produce about 10 trailers, and the goal is to be producing 200 a year by the end of 2019. There are currently 10 employees, and the plan is to hire 20 new employees by the end of 2019 and to have 40-50 on board by the end of 2020, Jones said.

“There’s a lot that has to be done before we can say we’re in full production,” Jones said. The company is working on financing and it looks positive, he said.

Also, a final environmental clearance is needed for the property.

The Athens County Port Authority in 2017 approved using Brownsfields Assessment Grant funds for Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental assessments of the property. The money had been requested by the receiver, Chris Davis of Columbus. According to the receiver’s request for court approval to sell the property, Davis obtained funding from the Ohio University Credit Union for cleanup of the property and is working on finishing it.

Sara Marrs-Maxfield, Port Authority secretary, said the Phase 2 assessment found no major environmental issues with the property, but there was a lot of garbage, debris and unopened containers of paint and chemicals that needed to be cleaned up.

Once that is done, another Phase 1 assessment will be completed with Brownsfield grant funds to show that everything has been completed, she explained.

McCarthy’s order authorizes the receiver to reimburse the credit union for funds it provided for the cleanup.

The OU Credit Union holds a first mortgage lien on the property, and has consented to the sale, according to the receiver. In 2016, the credit union filed a foreclosure action against Gem Coatings Ltd. and company founder Karry Gemmell of Logan.

In 2012, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency sued Gem Coatings and Gemmel, claiming the company had violated hazardous waste laws. The EPA lawsuit asserted that Gem Coatings improperly stored paint waste, which the EPA said is a hazardous waste, in amounts that caused the company to lose its status as an exempt small-quantity generator of hazardous waste, thus requiring it to meet additional regulations. The lawsuit also asserted the company illegally dumped waste from sandblasting at the facility.

The company denied the allegations and in 2013 a settlement was reached in which the company agreed to pay a $30,000 penalty without admitting wrongdoing and to hire a contractor to develop a cleanup plan.