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American Polishing plant to occupy old Tri County Shirt

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Staff Writer

It's just a handshake deal, but Fulton County Judge Curren Everett expects the building which formerly housed the Tri County Shirt Factory on Highway 395 in Salem to soon reopen.

Negotiations are in the works with Mike Webber, president of American Polishing Company. Webber toured the building Dec. 29 and thought the location would be ideal for expansion, he said.

Webber said before his company can sign a five-year lease the county must get a release from the former lessee.

Everett said he is working with Capital Mercury Apparel, the former lessee, whose corporate office is located in New York, to execute the release.

Everett received a fax from Bob Troeger at Mar-Bax, a sister company to Capital Mercury. The fax informed Everett that Ella Bailey, senior vice president of manufacturing of Mar-Bax Shirt Company in Gassville, has contacted a representative in New York about the lease.

Troeger said if the county has a valid tenant agreeing to use the building and the activity will increase employment for Salem and Fulton County then Capital Mercury Apparel will consider releasing the lease.

Troeger said he will contact the company attorney, Ron Kincade, to draw up the release papers when Everett sends him the county's plans for the building.

Capital Mercury was locked into a lease agreement and has continued to pay the county $300 a month since the Tri-County Shirt Factory closed its doors in November 2001. The building has been vacant since then.

Capital Mercury also has equipment stored in the building. If Capital agrees to allow American Polishing to take over the lease they would need at least 30 days to move their equipment, Webber said.

American Polishing opened its doors in 1971. By 1981 the company employed 118 workers.

The company does metal finishing for marine hardware, fireplaces and airplane parts. In 1992 the company began aluminum die casting.

Webber said American Polishing hopes to create between 25 and 30 jobs with the expansion. He plans to purchase three more die cast machines, he said.

Webber said manufacturing companies are moving their plants overseas, so American Polishing needed to make plans. "We felt like we either had to grow or stay where are are. So we elected to grow," he said.

A smaller facility on Highway 9 North which was also part of the shirt factory has been leased to Libla Telecommunication which is contracting with CenturyTel phone company, Everett said.

Libla has agreed to pay the county $700 a month, Everett said. Libla has already moved to the location on Highway 9, he said.

The judge said he would like to see local people back in the work force. He said the county would save money on insurance premiums and maintenance.

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