The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Business

September 20, 2012

Sharon Fence created links for big expansion

SHARON — At most business groundbreaking ceremonies a platoon of developers, attorneys and politicians dressed in a sea of blue and gray suits give a drab account of the project.

As the co-owner of Sharon Fence Co. though, David Smith found a way to show this really was a family business. When Smith walked up to the microphone his three-year-old son Harlan was in tow – arms clutched around his dad’s neck.

“This has been a three-year journey,’’ Smith told the audience gathered for the event at a Sharon construction site. “This is very meaningful to us, our company and our employees.’’

Along with his wife Jessica, the couple have committed to building a new 50,000-square-foot building along Dock Street. Their four-year-old son Nigel also was on hand while their son Gavin, 6, was in school.

With a price tag of $2.3 million, the building is scheduled for completion at the breakneck speed of mid-December. Employing 21, the addition is expected to add at least several new jobs over the next 18 months.

Currently located in Wheatland, the company’s move will provide extra room to produce larger slide gates for industrial uses and expand capacity for creating chainlinked fences.

Getting to this point wasn’t easy.

Part of the site was once the home of National Castings Corp., which closed its doors there in the early ’80s. Since then the land has been largely unused. Requiring some environmental cleanup, other parts of the site had multiple owners that resembled a corporate jig-saw puzzle that had to be pieced together.

When adding zoning, permitting and financing requirements, it took three years to get the project off the ground.   

“In the 30 years I’ve been doing real estate development, I’ve never seen a project this challenging and this complicated to get to this point,’’ said Larry Segal, corporate counsel for West Middlesex-based Wessex Corp., contractor for the project. “The project probably died 50 times – but nobody would let it die.’’

Getting the building ready in three months will be the easy part, said Greg Koledin, president and CEO of Wessex.

“All of this really did take three years to get here,’’ Koledin said.

A number of resources were called into service for the project, including Penn-Northwest Development Corp., the Shenango Valley Industrial Development Corp., the city of Sharon and the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Scott Andrejchak, Sharon city manager, said after the event the project is another good example of the potential Sharon has to offer.  

“The city is grateful to the Smiths, Greg Koledin and Wessex Corp. for their belief in Sharon, for their investment and for putting underutilized property to better use,’’ Andrejchak said.  He thanked Bob Fiscus, Adam Trambley and all the members of the Sharon Street Authority for their hard work to bring the project home.

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