By Joe Crews
For Hometown News
Conelec of Florida, a 29-year-old Sanford company with about 100 employees, has begun moving into a building in DeLand Crossings Industrial Park that once housed Intellitec Products.
Conelec is leaving a 22,000-square-foot facility near the Sanford Orlando International Airport for its new home, from which it will serve the medical, security and communication industries as well as military and industrial markets.
"We're excited that the company has some strong growth plans that will result in an unknown number of new hires," said Rob Ehrhardt, manager of Volusia County's Division of Economic Development.
Conelec of Florida is a contract manufacturer of electronics, said the company's chief financial officer, Natalie Cockayne.
"We provide full-service manufacturing for other companies," Ms. Cockayne said by phone last week from her Sanford office. "They provide the recipe, and we buy the materials and make it work."
Workers began moving new equipment into the former Intellitec building last month, and already had one production line in operation a week ago, The goal is to be fully operational in the new space by Oct. 8.
"We invested over $1 million in new equipment for the new building," Ms. Cockayne said. "It's better to do it when you have a clean slate."
Conelec had been looking for a larger facility for about a year when commercial real estate consultants Sperry Van Ness alerted it to the availability of the Intellitec building.
"We were attracted (to the site at DeLand Crossings) by the building," Ms. Cockayne said.
The company began talks with Ehrhardt's staff and ended up buying the building and nearly 8.5-acre site in May for $2.3 million. But there were no incentives offered by the county, she added.
"They did enough by building the park," she said.
While Conelec has about 100 employees at its Sanford location, not all of those employees are willing to commute from Seminole County and will have to be replaced with local hires, Ms. Cockayne said.
"We're losing some of our staff because of the distance," she said, "but over the next few years we'll probably hire about 50 more (over the current 100)."
The relocation is a homecoming, of sorts, for Ms. Cockayne. Although she already lives in DeBary, she is a 1998 graduate of DeLand High School.
Conelec's move resulted in Intellitec's relocation in August into a nearly 38,000-square-foot facility at 1290 E. International Speedway Blvd. in DeLand that once was home to Quality Brands, a wholesale beer distributorship, said Mr. Ehrhardt.
Quality Brands was sold to Daytona Beverages a year ago, and the latter company then consolidated its operations in Daytona Beach. But the former owners of Quality Brands, Robert and Joanna Roberson, still own the property that Intellitec now is leasing .
"We are most gratified to have had the opportunity to work with them and keep them in Volusia County," Mr. Ehrhardt said recently of Intellitec. "They had been looking at a site in Seminole County, so it's good to keep the jobs here."
David Greene, Intellitec's senior vice president of operations and chief financial officer, said the county's economic development folks and Team Volusia Economic Development Corp. helped his company find a new home. In addition to Seminole County, Intellitec also looked at sites in Orange City.
But the former Quality Brands building was most suited to Intellitec's needs, he said, especially since it required less preparation than the others.
"As it turned out, this building is almost perfect for us," Mr. Greene said.
That helped the relocation go smoothly.
"All (relocations) are difficult, but this went pretty well," he said. "We had to move $2 million in inventory and all of our machines, work benches and equipment. It went a lot better than I thought it would. ... We got in and up and running in less than a week."
DeLand Crossings Industrial Park was developed in 2004 by Volusia County near the Interstate 4-State Road 44 interchange. The 43-acre industrial park is a "master-planned, master-drained community," according to Mr. Ehrhardt, and has six pre-permitted industrial and manufacturing sites.
Intellitec, the first company to move into the park, took two sites for its 63,000-square-foot building. By the time it was forced to move out when the down economy hurt its business, only half of the building was in use by the 40 employees working there. The company designs and manufactures custom and production electronic equipment for specialty vehicles, such as fire engines, ambulances and recreational vehicles.
Mr. Ehrhardt said three companies operate out of two other buildings in the park. Performance Brothers, a manufacturer of after-market auto performance parts, shares a 60,000-square-foot building with Pelican Water, which makes water purification systems. Sen-Pack, a maker of robotic packaging equipment for the food and beverage industry, operates out of another 60,000-square-foot building.