by Lisa Kashinsky, Eagle-Tribune
METHUEN — Just a few months after moving into a new, larger home in Methuen, New England Die Cutting Inc. President and owner Kimberly Abare is already thinking ahead to the increased opportunities afforded by the company’s new digs.
The family-owned manufacturing company that makes gaskets, seals and insulators primarily for the military industry, made the move from Haverhill to the former Internal Revenue Service building at 96 Milk St. in Methuen at the beginning of November.
After settling in, the company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 15 with city officials, area legislators, local economic leaders and the financial partners that helped make New England Die Cutting’s move to Methuen possible.
“We’re definitely ready to add some people and add some equipment and keep on going,” Abare said. “The building is wonderful and that just allows us to be able to grow, it’s the vehicle that allows us to expand.”
New England Die Cutting Inc. is one of three companies, along with Globus Medical and Jessica’s Brick Oven Inc., that were recently brought to Methuen from other local communities through state and city tax incentives.
Last year, the state’s Economic Assistance Coordinating Council approved the three businesses to participate in the state’s Economic Development Incentive Program, which provides tax credits for businesses that foster job creation and stimulate business growth.
In conjunction with those incentives, the city approved Tax Increment Financing agreements with each of those businesses. Those agreements provide the businesses a break on paying property taxes to the city on any new value from improvements to their properties over the course of 10 years, starting with a full exemption the first year and decreasing to a 10 percent exemption by the last year.
“If you don’t give these manufacturing companies or companies in general some sort of agreement like a tax incentive, they either move across the border, move south, or in some cases out of the country,” Mayor Stephen Zanni said.
Coming to Methuen
Abare and her husband, David Abare, co-own New England Die Cutting, which was founded in 1982. They purchased the business from David’s father in 1999. Their sons, David and Garrett, also work for the company.
Their products, which use electromagnetic interference shielding materials to help protect equipment such as missiles and radar from outside electrical interference, are purchased by companies, including Raytheon and BAE Systems.
Realizing they needed to expand from their 22,000-square-foot space in Haverhill, the Abares set their sights on the 102,000-square-foot former IRS building at 96 Milk St. after touring it last year. They waited out another investor that held a three-month option on the building and were told on June 29 that their bid offer had been accepted, Kimberly Abare said.
From there, the family partnered with Pentucket Bank to finance the purchase of the building and completing about $800,000 in construction to convert the former office building into a manufacturing facility, she said. That included moving walls, having the floors and vents cleaned by an environmental company, and outfitting necessary security features, such as radio frequency identification technology.
The company’s total investment in Methuen was about $5.5 million, Abare said. The city awarded the company a TIF agreement valued at approximately $98,000.
New England Die Cutting occupies about 70,000 square feet of the Milk Street building, and is leasing about 30,000 square feet of space to Launch Trampoline Park, which is set to open in coming months.
The larger space will allow for “more machinery, more automated machinery,” as well as providing the opportunity for New England Die Cutting to continue increasing its sales, which have climbed consecutively over the past five years, Abare said.
It will also allow for additional job growth – 13 new employees in five years, on top of its existing 31 employees, she said.
Zanni said it was important for the city to attract businesses like New England Die Cutting, where the families that run them put “their whole livelihood” into making their businesses profitable.
“It’s a great investment for our city. It increases our tax base over time, but it also brings jobs to the city,” Zanni said.
In regards to the Abares taking over the former IRS building, he added, “It’s nice that a building of that magnitude has been filled with a manufacturing company, and a family-owned one is great.”
Joining New England Die Cutting as a new business in Methuen is Globus Medical, an international medical device manufacturing company that’s now operating out of a renovated building at 300 Griffin Brook Park Drive, Zanni said.
The company, which focuses on products that promote healing in patients with musculoskeletal disorders, left an 8,283-square-foot space in Andover for its Methuen building, which is a little more than 100,000 square feet.
Jessica’s Brick Oven, a wholesale bakery serving retail supermarkets, big box stores, food service companies, and local gourmet shops and restaurants, is still in the process of negotiating for the former General Mills factory that includes buildings at 35 Danton Drive and 192 Pelham St., Zanni said.
Should the deal close, Jessica’s would have a production plant and a distribution plant, as well as construct a third building for refrigeration needs, officials said previously.