Faria Beede announces move to North Stonington warehouse
Montville — Faria Beede, the gauge and vehicle technology manufacturer that has occupied a 117-year-old mill complex along Oxoboxo Brook for more than 50 years, will move into a North Stonington warehouse this spring.
The company’s owners have been looking for a new home for Faria Beede for years, and the Indiana businessman who bought the company last year said he had been looking for a new location long before the sale was finalized.
Fred Merritt, who owns a handful of manufacturing firms across the Midwest, bought Faria Beede in September, a month after the company, formerly known as Thomas G. Faria Corp., announced its plans to move out of the more than century-old former mill complex.
Merritt met with representatives from towns across the area looking for buildings that could accommodate light manufacturing, and this week announced to Faria Beede’s more than 200 employees that over the next several months they will be moving into warehouse and office space at 75 Frontage Road in North Stonington, a 100,000-square-foot property owned by Jason Quinlan.
The move will not mean any layoffs, and Merritt said the North Stonington location likely will make for a more convenient commute for most of Faria Beede’s employees, many of whom live in New London.
The Pink Row mill complex in Montville is set to be sold to a Massachusetts development company, Dakota Partners, which plans to convert the building into a multifamily residential complex. Merritt said the sale to Dakota Partners has not yet been finalized, but a contract the two companies have signed stipulates that Faria Beede move out by September of this year.
Merritt said he briefly considered several properties in Montville, but the only plots available were empty and would have required the company to build a new facility — something it did not have time for.
"The only options here that were even close would be new construction," he said. "And that was just not a viable option for us."
Finding a new facility with enough parking space was a challenge, too, he said.
"To find something that is usable space, that has enough parking to accommodate 200 people at one time ... it doesn't exist here," he said. "We could not find it in New London, either."
The North Stonington warehouse already houses several light manufacturing firms, including Hi-Tech Profiles Inc., which manufactures plastic tubing, a woodworking company, the Barton & Gray Mariners Club yachting company, and a handful of other technology and engineering firms that occupy office space.
It was built in the 1970s by valve manufacturer Posi-Seal International, which was bought by Fisher Controls International. The Mashantucket Pequot tribe owned the building for a decade after that company shut down, keeping it largely vacant until 2015, when Quinlan purchased the property and renovated it to draw in tenants.
Faria Beede will occupy about 45,000 square feet of the building, including 30,000 square feet of manufacturing space and about 15,000 square feet of offices.
The building is all on one level, one of several advantages that Merritt said the new space has over the Pink Row complex, which went up six floors and required workers to carry equipment up and down stairs.
Faria Beede is in the process of completing the cleanup process for water contamination that was identified in 1980, including the removal of soil from the property and continued monitoring from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Merritt said.
The company also either will dispose of or sell antiquated and unused equipment that Merritt says is taking up 10,000 square feet at Faria Beede, some of it unused for more than a decade.
“We have a lot of scrap that we’ve just held on to,” he said.
The North Stonington facility will have more efficient lighting and heating systems, and will be overall a safer and more productive work environment, Merritt said. Potential clients, including ones from overseas who have come to visit Faria Beede in Montville, have declined to do business with the company after seeing equipment gathering dust and ceilings low enough that employees could hit their heads, he said.
The company will start moving its production into the North Stonington in May, and will continue to move in phases until September, Merritt said.
North Stonington First Selectman Shawn Murphy said he spoke about the town’s favorable location and low mill rate during a Dec. 20 meeting of municipal leaders arranged by Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region, which sought to find a new location for Faria Beede in the area.
The town and Norwich were the only ones that had the buildings in place to accommodate Faria, and after a few meetings in Norwich the company settled on North Stonington.
While the company’s contribution to the town’s tax rolls will be small, coming only from personal property that Faria Beede will relocate to the property, Murphy said the move will boost the town’s profile and come with other economic benefits.
“I think having a business move in is a catalyst for other businesses coming. ... I'm excited that businesses are recognizing North Stonington as an option to do business,” he said.
The move is the biggest relocation to the town in years, he said, and he hopes some employees will choose to relocate in North Stonington and bring their children with them to boost enrollment in the school system.
“I want to welcome Faria and their employees to North Stonington," he said. "I'm positive they will find us easy to do business with and look forward to working with them in the future."
Faria Beede has signed a five-year lease with the option to extend it for a total of 17 years.
“It’s a nice, long-term commitment,” Merritt said.
The Massachusetts development firm Dakota Partners did not respond to an email requesting more information about their plans for the Pink Row property Thursday. The firm already has completed several residential developments in Connecticut, including the multimillion-dollar conversion of two office buildings into apartments in Hartford.
In September, Faria Beede successfully lobbied for a zoning change that would allow Dakota Partners to use the property for residential purposes.
Day Staff Writer Nate Lynch contributed to this story.