Memco Inc., will have to wait another month on possible acceptance of their offer to move to the Chaffee Crossing district from the company’s location at 5601 Old Greenwood Road in Fort Smith.
The industrial distributor primarily serves the food industry, including companies like Simmons and OK Foods. Its plan is to build a warehouse/office space of 27,000 square feet for its Fort Smith operation.
Headquartered in Hollister, Mo., the company is a family-owned business started by Julie and Robert Middleton. Memco maintains Arkansas-based sales and distribution centers in Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Springdale, and locations in Harrisonburg, Va., and Kansas City, Kan.
Memco is a private company and does not share financial data, but its LinkedIn profile shows it employs between 51-200 employees across all locations.
They began working with Fort Smith region customers in 1999, establishing an office in 2009. Larry McGriff, vice-president of operations for the company, said they plan to be in Fort Smith “for the lifetime of the company,” adding the offer on five acres of land at $25,000 an acre would leave enough room to sustain the business’s growth “up to 50,000 or 60,000 square feet.”
“I think that would cover all the area we’d ever need down here, and I think this property would sustain us very well,” McGriff said.
The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) real estate review committee was hesitant to accept the offer on Thursday (April 12) and voted to table it until next month, so Memco and FCRA staff could work out a few concerns. While FCRA Board member Don Keesee said he “would love to have them out here,” he referenced the committee turning down a previous offer for the land in question at the same amount on the grounds it wasn’t the “highest and best use” of the property.
The Memco offer also asked FCRA to handle the utility extensions — an expenditure typically shared by the city of Fort Smith that could cost anywhere from $130,000-$200,000 depending on the size of the lines that would need to be installed (10-inch or 18-inch, respectively).
There also was concern about the closing date. Memco requested a range from May-September of 2019. McGriff explained this was because “We don’t want to just have vacant property sitting there that we own, so we’re trying to close right when we’re ready to break ground.” Also, “we’re on a fiscal year from October to September, and the new tax law that went into place won’t take effect for us until October, so we’re trying to take advantage of that and help our staff out first, and then come around and do some investment on assets afterward.” The company also is locked into its existing lease for two years.
McGriff said until recently, the company has rented all of its locations aside from the corporate office. Its Springdale location is the first expansion it owns, “and that’s kind of the path that we’re trying to get on — to own our buildings and have these assets and have better places for our employees to come to work and build a place our employees are proud of.”