LEXINGTON -- A manufacturer with existing locations in Washington and Arkansas has purchased and moved into the former Container Craft building in Lexington -- with intentions to bring approximately 60 new jobs to the area.
Founder and president of Complete Access, Larry Warford plans to hire 45 new employees by the end of 2019 and eventually between 15 to 25 more, offering a total of 60 to 70 jobs at the 144 Plymouth Street facility.
“The reason we chose this particular building was because the area had some pretty good incentive programs that could really help us,” Warford said. “We were able to buy it with cash, and what I thought was it could close quicker and we could get working earlier.”
The company, which makes easy-to-install wheelchair ramps and stairs, needed to move into a new space on an accelerated timeline. Richland County economic development leaders like the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce’s Barrett Thomas were able to provide the right resources to accommodate.
Warford looked at the building approximately two months ago and bought it May 23.
“Barrett has been awesome, and the people have just been really great to work with here,” he said.
But Warford’s initial plans were to open a location in South Carolina, and even then when turning his sites towards Ohio, he looked in Lancaster, Youngstown and Dayton first. His first visit to Lexington was on a whim.
“We were actually heading for a business meeting in Cleveland, and the GPS, Mapquest kind of got us off course, we ended up at the Shawshank prison there. And we thought, what is this thing?” Warford recalled.
He quickly looked it up and realized two things. First, the Ohio State Reformatory is the location of one of his favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. And second, it was near the 56,000 square-foot Lexington building that he had nearly eliminated as an option. The former Container Craft building was too old. Its ceilings were too low.
“But while we’re there, I said, we should look at it,” Warford remembered. “I said, let’s just go. So we walked in, looked at it … and we first thought, It’s not ideal, but it would work. It’s smaller than what we want, but it would work.”
Upon further discussion, he and his general manager, Rick Bogue deemed it a “good fit” and purchased the building, despite some environmental concerns.
The new location is expected to serve customers in eastern Canada, the eastern coast of the United States and portions of the Midwest. Customers, Warford said, had requested a location in the northeastern United States to minimize shipping costs.
The more than two-decade old company, Complete Access will keep its locations in Washington and Arkansas in addition to its new facility in Ohio. Once at full-employment in Lexington, the company will employ about 200 people total.