Week of December 16, 2002
  Project Watch
BROADENING BRANDS: In addition to making some of Malt-O-Meal's 21 existing brands (some of which are pictured above), the facility in Tremonton will likely produce some of the 40 Quaker Oats brands the company acquired this month.
Cereal Continues: Malt-O-Meal's
Utah Plant Is a Go Again
by JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing

TREMONTON, UtahMalt-O-Meal's northwest Utah manufacturing plant is a go after all: More than two years after shutting down construction of its 450,000-sq.-ft. (41805-sq.-m.) manufacturing/distribution project in Tremonton, Utah, the Minneapolis-based cereal company has reversed course again, announcing that it will finish the facilities and hire more than 100 employees.
        "On behalf of the Board of Directors, we would like to announce that we will be opening the Tremonton Malt-O-Meal plant," CEO John Lettmann said at the press conference announcing the project restart in Tremonton, a city of some 5,600 residents. "We are very excited to be here. We have 100 percent confidence in the ability and work ethic of this community."
        Malt-O-Meal's original confidence in Tremonton was such that construction on the project's 200,000-sq.-ft. (18,580-sq.-m.) manufacturing plant was "80 to 90 percent finished" when construction was shelved in 2000, Lettmann said. An adjoining 250,000-sq.-ft. (23,225-sq.-m.) warehouse's foundation had also been completed by the time of 2000's cancellation.
        Construction was shut down, company officials explained at the time, because of intense price wars, as many cereal makers slashed brand-name product prices by as much as 50 percent. Malt-O-Meal - whose niche Letterman called "value cereals" - has strengthened its sales position since then. "Value cereals are doing very well," he said. "A lot of companies are cutting back and laying off right now. But with the quality of our product, we're doing very well."
        Another major factor also pushed the once-bagged Utah facility back onto the front expansion burner: Malt-O-Meal's December purchase of Quaker Oats' bagged, ready-to-eat cereals business, Lettmann said.
        With the Quaker buy, the company will significantly increase both its product line and total volume. And Malt-O-Meal's lone manufacturing plant in Northfield, Minn., is already operating at full capacity.

Facility Configuration Facilitates Phased Construction
Malt-O-Meal will begin operations in Tremonton in about a year, Lettmann said. "We need to finalize some permitting and finalize the construction schedule," he explained. "We'll be doing this in phases."
        The phased construction will create a facility with three sections, each virtually operating as a separate plant-within-a-plant, Lettmann said. With the completion of phase-one construction, the company will hire some 25 workers; once that phase is running at full capacity, another 15 workers will be added. The other two phases of the project will create about the same number of jobs, said the Malt-O-Meal CEO.
        The near-finished cereal-making facility, which was first announced in 1998, had been languishing on the market for more than two years. The asking price was listed at $10 million by Colliers International, which was handling the sale through its offices in Salt Lake City, located some 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of Tremonton.
        A substantial amount of still-boxed plant equipment - valued between $8 million to $10 million
Tremonton, Utah
ACCESS IN CRUNCH SITUATIONS: With its northwest Utah location (see map above), Tremonton offers abundant interstate access, as well as close proximity to the major population centers in Utah, where Malt-O-Meal currently ranks as the No. 1 cereal, according to Nielsen Marketing Research.
by Malt-O-Meal officials - was also inside the plant, but wasn't included in the proposed purchase price. Water and sewer lines are already in place at the 100-acre (40-hectare) site, company officials said.

Project Will Likely Re-Qualify for
Forfeited Incentives First Granted in '98
Malt-O-Meal's stop-and-go scenario in northwest Utah had already cost the company a $750,000 incentive grant. The privately owned firm four years ago was awarded the grant from Utah's Industrial Assistance Fund (IAF), which rewards companies that locate facilities in rural areas that create jobs paying more than the area's average wage scale. Malt-O-Meal forfeited the IAF grant after it cancelled its Tremonton project.
        State development officials, however, said that the project will likely again qualify for the same assistance. Jobs at the Tremonton plant will pay about $27,000 a year, not including profit sharing, medical benefits and pensions, company officials said.
        "These people will require quite a bit of training," Lettmann said of the Utah workers who will be hired.
        Malt-O-Meal executives also praised local officials for their continuing support, even after project construction ceased.
        "We appreciate their cooperation, especially when things looked down and we had to stop work," Director of Engineering Gary Bollinger said at the press conference at the Tremonton City Center. "They hung in there and never gave up on us. We appreciate your cooperation and look forward to working again with you."
        Malt-O-Meal has some other work to do, though, before opening its operation in Tremonton: sorting out its product lines after the Quaker Oats purchase.
        The 83-year-old company has 21 brands of bagged cereal, while its new acquisition brings 40 more. After duplicate brands are eliminated, the company will have about 60 brands, company officials estimated. As part of its acquisition deal, Malt-O-Meal will be able to continue to use the Quaker name on the product lines it obtained.

Kingston, Ontario
A CAPITAL IDEA FOR A LOCATION: Ontario's oldest city, Kingston (pictured) was also Canada's first national capital, serving in that role from 1841 to 1844. Photo: Kingston Economic Development Corp.

Assurant Group Adding
400 New Jobs at Ontario
and Oklahoma Operations
by JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing

KINGSTON, ONTARIO and LAWTON, Okla.Assurant Group has unwrapped early Christmas gifts for the business-recruiting folks in Kingston, Ontario, and Lawton, Okla. Positioning itself for an anticipated upsurge in business next year, the Atlanta-based insurance-industry player is adding some 400 new jobs at its existing operations in the two cities.
        The twin expansion announcements come as Assurant is projecting a substantial increase in 2003's call volume. Company officials, for example, are forecasting 5.8 million inbound calls in 2003, a 500,000 increase from 2002's projected yearend totals.

Canadian Project Precursor
For 300-Employee Future Expansion
The Canadian project will be the larger of the two expansions. In a move to consolidate and expand its presence in Kingston, Assurant is building a new 45,000-sq.-ft. (4,180-sq.-m.) operations center in the city of 140,000 residents.
        The new facility will house 400 employees, including 252 customer service representatives and 80 claims associates, plus management and support personnel.
        The company, which markets and underwrites specialty insurance products and services, already had 185 employees in Kingston, which sits 158 miles (254 kilometers) east of Toronto. Currently, those employees are located at two separate sites. Assurant in its new facility will add another 215 employees.
        Even with the company's considerable existing presence in the city, Kingston wasn't the proverbial lock for the project. Assurant reviewed data on 416 locations throughout Canada, according to Steven Phillips, managing director of Assurant's Canadian operations.
        Kingston won out, he explained, because of the quality of its labor force, the area's "competitive labor and facility costs" and the location's accessibility to the company's other North American operations.
        "Consolidating our Canadian support operations positions Assurant to better support the growth needs of current clients and grow our business in Canada," Phillips said. "We are very excited about the prospects for Kingston and the important role that this new center will play in the future of our company."
        Part of that future includes further expansion at the company's new Kingston site. Assurant's longer-term plans, Phillips explained, call for building a second, 300-employee facility on the same 14.5-acre (5.8-hectare) tract where it's now consolidating and expanding.
        Oklahoma City-based Tapp Development Corp. and Atlanta-based Farrington Design Group are overseeing project development. Assurant expects to bring the new Kingston facility online rapidly, opening the consolidated and expanded operation by the summer of 2003, company officials said.
Mattie Beal Home in Lawton, Okla.
OKIE SITE PROVES A-OK FOR EXPANSION: Assurant first announced that it was coming to Lawton, Okla., after it had evaluated 4,000 U.S. areas Pictured: the Mattie Beal Home, a 14-room mansion built in Lawton in 1909 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is named for the woman who won the mansion's 160-acre (40-hectare) site in the 1901 Oklahoma Territory land lottery. Beal donated land for two parks, a school and a church to Lawton, where she died in 1931.

170 More New Employees
In Southwestern Oklahoma
2003's projected bullish business similarly spurred the expansion in Lawton, which lies 86 miles (238 kilometers) southwest of Oklahoma City.
        Assurant is adding 18,000 sq. ft. (1,672 sq. m.) of space to its existing 35,862-sq.-ft. (3,332-sq.-m.) call center in the Lawton-Fort Sill metro, which has more than 111,000 residents. The addition will result in 170 new hires, who will join the 230 employees who're already working at the Oklahoma facility. The added space and personnel, Assurant officials said, will increase capacity to handle incoming calls by 60 percent at the Lawton operation, which only opened in March of 2001.
        "We are very pleased with our experience in Oklahoma," John Owen, Assurant executive vice president for information technology and consumer marketing services, said in announcing the expansion. "The Lawton-Fort Sill community has a large, well-educated labor pool from which to draw employees and excellent educational institutions with which to partner for our training needs. State and local government agencies also have been very supportive."
        Such support was part of the scenario that helped pave a very fast track for Assurant in getting its initial facility in Lawton online.
        Following its evaluation of 4,000 U.S. areas, the company in July of 2000 first announced that it was coming to a 6.75-acre (2.7-hectare) site in the southwest Oklahoma city. Seven months later, the Lawton center was up and running - six to eight months faster than the normal time frame, said Craig Metz, executive vice president of Assurant's Consumer Marketing Services.
        Tapp Development Corp. - which handled Assurant's initial expansion in Lawton and is co-developing the new Kingston facility - will lead Assurant's Oklahoma expansion.
        In addition to Assurant's U.S. and Canadian sites, the company's 5,500 employees are also positioned in operations in Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

Alliance Airport Industrial Park
GUSTS OF GROWTH: With Triangle Network's 375,000-sq.-ft. (34,838-sq.-m.) deal, the 65-sq.-mile (168-sq.-kilometer) Alliance Airport Industrial Park (pictured) has leased 2.8 million sq. ft. (260,120 sq. m.) of space in 2002 - well above its previous annual record, 1998's 1.8 million sq. ft. (167,220 sq. m.).

Triangle Network Takes 375,000 SF
in Fort Worth for Sixth Hub Location

by JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing

FORT WORTH, TexasTriangle Network has moved into the U.S. Southwest market in Texas-size style. The logistics provider has announced that it will set up its sixth hub city operation in Fort Worth, Texas, occupying 375,000 sq. ft. (34,838 sq. m.) in Alliance Airport Industrial Park. The Fort Worth facility will immediately become Triangle's second-biggest hub, trailing only its operation in San Pedro, Calif., which covers 1.85 million sq. ft. (171,865 sq. m.). The facility at Alliance Airport Park will increase Triangle's current 3-million-sq.-ft. (278,000 sq. m.) portfolio by more than 10 percent.
        Similarly, the 150 workers who will be employed in Fort Worth will represent a 10 percent increase in the company's total work force.
        "The Alliance Texas development offers great advantages, including tremendous freeway access and a large labor pool," Triangle Transport President Caryn Blanc said in explaining the company's location choice. "From what I've seen, the companies located there are satisfied and want to stay, which is a great indicator for us."

Deal Augments Alliance's Record-Setting Year
The Triangle facility will begin operations in Alliance Airport Park almost immediately, Blanc said. It will join the company's other hub locations in Charlotte, N.C.; Miami; Jersey City, N.J.; Los Angeles and Seattle.
        Triangle's Texas hub will provide manufacturing and retail corporate clients with a broad range of supply-chain services, including trucking, distribution, logistics and fulfillment. The company annually processes some $60 billion in wholesale goods, according to company officials. Client firms include Best Buy, Circuit City, Sears, Tommy Hilfiger, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
        One of those clients, Best Buy, recently honored Triangle with one of its annual Bravo Awards for its vendors. The Best Buy awards are judged on vendors' financial performance and operational excellence.
        Alliance Airport Park has attained its own sort of operational excellence this year. With the Triangle deal, the park in 2002 has leased 2.8 million sq. ft. (260,120 sq. m.) of space. That represents an appreciable increase from Alliance Airport Park's previous high for leased space: the 1.8 million sq. ft. (167,220 sq. m.) recorded in 1998.
        The Triangle transaction, which was handled by Cushman & Wakefield, also represents Alliance Airport Park's third 2002 lease of more than 300,000 sq. ft. (27,870 sq. m.). Earlier this year, park developer Hillwood inked a 756,000-sq.-ft. (70,232-sq.-m.) deal with Ryder/Philips Electronics and a 670,000-sq.-ft. (62,243-sq.-m.) lease with General Mills.


©2002 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.