By Kevin Doherty
LANCASTER — Horn Packaging Corp. is consolidating its operations in Ayer, Billerica and Pepperell into Lancaster property now occupied by the Rockport Shoe Co., the company’s CEO said last week.
Peter Hamilton, head of the 68-year-old family-owned packaging company based in Ayer, hopes to make the move by early next year. If all goes according to plan, Hamilton said he plans to move the company’s 90 employees to the Rockport facility and create at least 20 new jobs after renovating the facility.
“We are looking at this location because of the size and condition of the facility,” Hamilton said. “Also, it’s a premier location relating to our customer base and employee base. It’s an opportunity to cut our costs and utilize some local and state incentives.”
Ayer Town Administrator Jeff Ritter said he had been unaware of Horn’s incentive to consolidate and move from its facility in Ayer, which has been in the town for nearly 68 years.
Horn Packaging has two facilities in Billerica, where it’s had a presence for 25 years, and it has been in Pepperell for 10 years.
Hamilton hopes to complete the purchase of the facility while working with town officials on a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement.
“Our long-term goals are to lower our costs and be a more competitive business in Massachusetts and New England, so we can have a healthy long-term future here,” he said.
Lancaster Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco called the pending agreement a “win-win” for the company and the town.
“This will allow them to consolidate into one facility and put them in a good position for expansion and job creation,” said Pacheco.
Officials from Rockport Shoe notified the town in February of their decision to vacate its warehouse and outlet space at 580 Fort Pond Road, resulting in the loss of approximately 150 jobs.
Rockport, a division of Reebok, will relocate to Spartanburg, S.C., in December, to join the group’s largest distribution site worldwide, Rockport spokeswoman Meghan Grimaldi said in a statement.
“The town was left with a very unappealing position, but now Horn is looking to come in and even add a million dollars in renovations,” Pacheco said.
Hamilton said Horn Packaging will invest about $1 million to renovate the 275,620-square-foot building to better accommodate its needs.