B.J. Alan project plan
B.J. Alan Co., known for its Phantom Fireworks, has signed a 20-year lease for part of the former Delphi Packard facility in Trumbull County and pledged to create 54 jobs with average hourly wages of $17.58 and secure 177 jobs. The $8.1 million project comprises the following sources and uses.
Ohio Department of Development 166 Direct Loan Program to IRG Warren I LLC which owns the Delphi Packard building and 200 acres: $1.9 million
IRG Warren contribution: $1 million
Bank loan: $5.2 million
Purchase Delphi Packard building: $2.6 million
Renovations: $4.5 million
Site preparation: $1,035,000
Source: Ohio Controlling Board
By William K. Alcorn
The state has approved a $1.9 million loan that completes $8.1 million in financing for the B.J. Alan Fireworks Co. to move much of its Youngstown operation to a former Delphi Packard plant in Trumbull County.
The Ohio Controlling Board approved the loan Monday.
The majority of the fireworks company’s 250 local employees will move to the Warren warehouse when it opens, expected by the end of the year, said Bruce Zoldan, B. J. Alan chief executive officer.
B.J. Alan has about 450 employees companywide year-round, a number that swells to some 2,400 during the Fourth of July fireworks season.
Out of its new warehouse, located at Larchmont Avenue and North River Road, B.J. Alan will do wholesale distributions for three divisions: chain store customers; temporary operations, which are mainly tents and stands in Western states; and the firm’s biggest division, its chain of Phantom Fireworks retail showrooms, of which there were this year 54 in 13 states and Puerto Rico, said William A. Weimer, vice president of B.J. Alan and Phantom Fireworks.
The fireworks company isn’t completely vacating its Youngstown property at 555 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., where its principal warehouse is located, however.
Youngstown will keep the wholesale warehouse portion of the business and the Diamond Sparkler manufacturing operation. The showrooms in the city and Beaver Township will also stay, Weimer added.
Zoldan said the purchase agreement for about 1.2 million square feet of the 2.5-million-square-foot former Delphi Packard Electric property is signed, and the deal is expected to be closed by the end of August.
The purchase was by IRG Warren I LLC, a real-estate firm which buys and develops industrial properties. IRG Warren will be owned by Zoldan and his wife, Rori. B.J. Alan Co. will be a tenant and rent 640,000 square feet of the building and attempt to rent out the other half, Weimer said.
B.J. Alan will move into the northern half of the former Delphi Packard facility nearest to the state Route 82 bypass, and Delphi will retain the other half nearest to North River Road, Weimer said.
Weimer said preparation of a facility to store fireworks requires a special fire-suppression system, fireproofing and venting and exiting plans that must meet the approval of the Trumbull County Building Department, the Ohio Division of Industrial Compliance and the state fire marshal “before we swing one hammer.”
Weimer said the move was necessary because B.J. Alan had outgrown its Youngstown facility.
“In Youngstown, we have 5,000 square feet. In Warren, we will have 640,000 square feet. We will go from a primitive to a very modern facility that will allow us to consolidate headquarters under one roof,” he said.
Several years ago, B.J. Alan attempted to build a $20 million facility in Beaver Township.
But, Weimer said, residents’ resistance and inaction on a 50 percent real- estate tax abatement by Mahoning County Commissioners eventually caused the company to walk away from the project after spending $300,000-$400,000 in preparation work.
“Bruce is very, very committed to the Mahoning Valley. Another Ohio community was talking about 75 percent [tax abatement] for 15 years and a Pennsylvania community was very aggressive at the last minute when we were considering the Delphi building,” Weimer said.
“We wanted to preserve jobs. ... The only place we could find was Delphi,” he said.
Weimer said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, Trumbull County commissioners, and the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber worked hard to keep B.J. Alan in the area.
“We are glad to be able to stay in the Mahoning Valley. Youngstown has been very cooperative, but we couldn’t stay in the city because it didn’t have an adequate facility,” Zoldan said.
“We are committed to the Mahoning Valley. I never forget where I come from,” he added.