Philly fuse maker chooses Bucks over North Carolina

Action Manufacturing has bought the 128,000 sq.ft. former Ferag Inc. printing-automation equpiment plant at 190 Rittenhouse Circle, Keystone Industrial Park, Bristol.

Updated with additional info:

Action Manufacturing, a North Philadelphia-based maker of military electronic fuses ("fuzes") and detonators, has bought the former 128,000 sq ft Ferag Inc. printing-equipment plant, 190 Rittenhouse Circle, Keystone Industrial Park, Bristol, for $6.125 million. Brokers Larry Bergen and Andy McGhee of Colliers International, Philadelphia, handled the sale. The company also owns a 200-acre, 75-building explosives plant near Atglen, Chester County.

Action almost didn't make it to Bristol. Action boss Arthur Mattia had been considering moving the plant and 125 jobs from its aging buildings on the St. Christopher's Hospital campus at 2nd and Erie - all the way to North Carolina. That state is trying to attract military industrial jobs as its textile mills and other manufacturers (which NC once poached from up North) flee to low-wage China. North Carolina's pitch included an in-person appeal from Gov. Bev Purdue.

Action's chief financial officer, Lorraine Prostoff, called State Rep. Tina M. Davis, D-Bucks, "and told me they wanted to stay here," Davis told me. But the company needed some persuading to offset North Carolina's offer.

Davis rang county Redevelopment Authority chief Robert White, who called Bristol Township building-planning-development director Glen Kucher. The result: "a concerted effort," says Robert Cormack, head of the county economic development authority. He credited US Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Bucks, with spreading the word. 

The local reps called state officials to offer training grants and state tax relief of up to $500,000 over five years (because the site is in the newly state-designated Enterprise Zone of Bucks County tax-break district), and prevailed on township officials to speed approvals for the Ferag site. That was enough to win Action's committment, Davis told me: "I was thrilled." 

"They met the people who count," said White. "I'm sure they'll be applying" for tax relief and for state job-training grants, for an additional 50 people he said Action plans to hire over the next two years. (Erin Murphy Boyle of Gov. Corbett's "action team" says she can't comment on the amount of taxpayer aid the state offered "until we announce it"). "But mostly," White added, "we made it simple" for the company.