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Melnor to remain in Frederick County

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Melnor Inc., a manufacturer of lawn and garden watering products, will build a new facility in Stonewall Industrial Park in Frederick County. Alan Lehman/Daily file

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Supervisors OK $90,000 toward building project

By James Heffernan -- jheffernan@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Melnor Inc., a manufacturer of lawn and garden watering products, will build a new 128,000-square-foot building on 11 acres in the Stonewall Industrial Park.

The $6.5 million investment will allow the company to maintain operations, including its headquarters, distribution, and research and development offices, in Frederick County and retain its 43 workers, who are paid an average annual wage of $51,163. Melnor was considering relocating to Berkeley County, W.Va.

The Frederick County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to float Melnor $90,000 toward the cost of the project. The money will be released in three installments through the county's Industrial Development Authority.

"Frederick County prides itself on its commitment to existing business," board Chairman Richard Shickle says in a statement released by the local Economic Development Commission. "Providing an environment that allows businesses to stay and grow is our top economic development priority."

EDC Executive Director Patrick Barker added that the agreement epitomizes the EDC's brand, "Your Move. Our Commitment."

"It is a strong statement which requires strong action," he said.

"For Melnor, the Winchester area is a great fit," company President and CEO Juergen Nies says in the statement. "We import 100 percent of our products, so Winchester's East Coast location, with its proximity to a large distribution network, is perfect."

The area also offers "a pool of well-educated residents from which to attract a high-caliber workforce," he says.

Melnor introduced the first oscillating lawn sprinkler in 1948 and today has more than 20 patents in the lawn and garden equipment category. Its products, which are made overseas, are sold at major retailers such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target and ACE Hardware, as well as in specialty lawn and garden shops.

O'Sullivan Corp. purchased the company 15 years ago and brought it to Winchester. Melnor eventually set up shop in a facility on Shawnee Drive. For a time, it was owned by a German firm, Gardena AG, before management led a leveraged buyout in 2009.

Human resources manager Erika Sutherland said Melnor has outgrown the leased space it currently occupies in the Fort Collier Industrial Park. The new facility in the Stonewall Industrial Park will house everything under one roof and allow room for growth, she said.

"It will be a brand-new building," she said, "very modern, definitely a step up."

Melnor hopes to be in the new facility by next spring.

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