One of the most promising economic development projects to come to Kent County took a step forward Tuesday as Dixon Valve and Coupling broke ground for its new distribution center on the north side of Chestertown, on land that includes the plot previously owned by WalMart. KRM, the real estate division of Dixon Valve, put the project together and will oversee its development.
Dixon’s CEO Dick Goodall opened the proceedings by recognizing those who made the project possible, beginning with the company’s employees who helped build business to the point where the expansion is needed. He also recognized government officials on the state, county and local levels who assisted with the permitting for the project and who smoothed annexation of the 80-acre property off Scheeler Road on which the warehouse and a surrounding business campus are to be sited. Construction will be performed by local contractors, including Bramble and DMS, he said. Groundbreaking on the apartment complex is tentatively scheduled in the next few months, Goodall said.
Goodall also gave a brief history of Dixon’s 40-year tenure in Chestertown, noting that the company came to town with 15 employees – a number that has grown to some 340, most of them hired from the local community. He showed a copy of the company’s first catalog, some 20 pages long — it has since grown to more than 90 pages. The company’s payroll is more than $30 million, he said – and if the new business campus proves a success, Goodall said, he hopes to double its contribution to the county’s economy.
Dixon Valve was co-founded by Goodall’s grandfather in 1916. The company moved to Chestertown after a deal for a site near Philadelphia fell through, Goodall said.
In addition to the Dixon distribution center, plans for the property include an apartment complex, which Goodall said would be a necessary attraction to new employees considering a move to the community. Also in the plans, a little farther down the road, are a new headquarters building for the company, a large health club, and spaces for retail and offices. KRM will build the necessary infrastructure for the Chestertown Business Campus, including water and sewer lines and roads, which will then be turned over to the town of Chestertown.
After Goodall’s comments, he and several senior staffers at the company took to the shovels for the ceremonial groundbreaking. There were also drinks and refreshments including pastries and fresh fruit for attendees.
Among those in attendance were state Senator Steve Hershey, Chestertown Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, Town Manager Bill Ingersoll, and Economic Development Coordinator Kay MacIntosh, Kent County Economic Development Coordinator Jamie Williams, Jim Luff, chairman of the county Economic Development Commission and Loretta Lodge, executive director of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce.
MacIntosh said the presence of a business park with new development will be a strong asset for the town in marketing itself to potential new businesses considering moving here.