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April 24, 2018 Manufacturing Insights

Curtis left Worcester for more modern W. Boylston facility

Photo | Courtesy George Psyhojos, president and CEO of Curtis Industries.

Curtis Industries, a manufacturer of cabin enclosures for small vehicles, left its Worcester location for West Boylston last year, and this year, manufacturers Primetals and Allegro Microsystems said they plan to move out of the city as well. President and CEO George Psyhojos recently answered questions about the company’s decision to leave Worcester. 

Did the high commercial tax rate in Worcester have anything to do with the move?

Not really. We were in four separate buildings in Worcester. Three were side by side and the fourth was two blocks away. It was just kind of a growth by evolution. We needed a little more space and we kept taking buildings.

When I came on board a little more than four years ago, it became apparent to me that there were a lot of inefficiencies associated with having four different buildings. It was a royal pain in the backside.

Really? Business groups have been clamoring for the city to stop raising the commercial tax rate.

The tax rate is an issue I think that Worcester is going to have to face, but it kind of gets blended in. We look at the total cost, not just the elemental cost. We’re paying a little more on certain line items, but less on the tax rate in West Boylston.

What was the company looking for in a new home?

We decided to look, at different times, to see what we could do for a facility that could encompass the whole of the company to be more efficient, have more room for growth and upgrade the facility.

Why West Boylston?

We had the opportunity to take a 15-year-old building about a quarter the size of what we needed, and the owner was willing to build an addition onto it to meet our needs.

The Town of West Boylston was able to give us a tax-increment financing agreement. The town really wanted us there and gave us an attractive offer.

When we looked at everything, we said it was worth doing.

Did you look at any sites in Worcester?

We looked at a number of sites in Worcester, but basically, we couldn’t find anything that was either the right size or the right configuration or that could be built on for a comparable rate.

The existing stock in Worcester was pretty lean. What we were able to find was really old. Now, we’re, in essence, in a brand new building.

There just wasn’t that opportunity in Worcester, or a developer willing to build something out at at a rate that was attractive to us.

How closely did you work with the city to stay in town?

The city was well aware of what we needed and what we wanted. They surfaced a number of opportunities they thought might work for us. Unfortunately, none of them came close to working.

What properties did the company look at in Worcester?

We looked at a proposal to repurpose old buildings alongside Saint Gobain, and we looked at a very old long and narrow facility along railroad tracks down by the cemetery on the southwest side of town.

If the West Boylston facility had been in Worcester, we quite possibly would have been able to stay. Nothing against Worcester, but it’s what’s available at the time you look that meets your needs.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.

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