BLAIR COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– The Bedford County-based manufacturing company Rockland Manufacturing has purchased the former Harbison Walker International building in Claysburg.
The 44-acre site on Quarry Road has been on the market for over three and a half years. The company closed the building due to regional downsizing and reorganization.
President of Rockland Manufacturing Bo Pratt said they plan to use the building to house their sister company Equipment Lock. Then, further down the line, they’ll add new facilities for shipping and manufacturing.
“The property is great for us as a new way to start storing and shipping things. Eventually, we’ll be manufacturing things,” Pratt said. “Eventually, more and more people coming out of that place like there used to be.”
Pratt said that this property is unique because of the historical background associated with the building. He’s excited to be able to rebuild the factory into something new again.
Besides the company’s growth, the expansion is meant to provide more convenience for current and future employees. Those employees who live in Blair County can travel a shorter distance to get to work.
“It be great if we could, you know, have some of those Rocklanders move up and be a little closer to home and save a bit of gas getting to work,” Pratt said. “Then, recruit some new folks that want to come down and learn what it means to be a Rocklander.”
Pratt said the building plans to be done in phases once they get all the utilities up and running. Phase one will be moving the Equipment Lock Company employees into one of the buildings. Phase two will involve improving the warehouse area by fixing gas lines, moving in plate equipment, and installing cranes. Phase three involves moving the warehouse from its current location in Bedford to Claysburg.
Blair County officials said this new purchase is a big win. It provides new jobs, but it also keeps the workforce and economy local. President and CEO of Altoona Blair County Development Corporation Stephen McKnight said Rockland purchasing the site is an excellent outcome.
“Anytime an expansion of a manufacturing facility that stays within your community,” McKnight said. “It just means a multiplier effect in terms of keeping the employment here, retaining all the existing employees. Then, adding employees and all that spending power doesn’t leave our market. And that’s critically important.”
80th District Representative Jim Gregory believes the company wouldn’t have expanded to this area if they didn’t recognize the county’s workforce.
“They obviously are appreciative of what this area has to offer because it helped them get to where they are now, and it can help them to where they want to be in the future,” Rep. Gregory said.
Light operations could start at the building as early as this spring ;however, the long-term plans have no definitive timeline. Pratt said this new building is expected to create between 50-75 jobs within a year and a half. If anyone is looking to apply, they can reach out to the company to place their name in.
“We’re happy to talk to anybody that wants to build equipment with us,” Pratt said. “Bedford County, Blair County is a great area with a lot of great people, and we’re excited to grow in it and with everybody.”