A downturn in the country's economy has caused The Door Stop to scale back its new Payson facility but the move is still on track, owner Jim Hill said.
A behind-the-scenes mini-drama recently played out at Payson Town Hall when Hill decided to take a closer look at his numbers in light of a slowing economy made worse by fear of terrorism. An escape clause in Hill's contract with the town allows him to nix the deal and get his money back at virtually any point.
"Sept. 11 is a problem, and it has made every business sit back and look at things from the standpoint of a recession," Hill said.
As a result, his cabinet door manufacturing company intends to scale back the size of the new manufacturing facility it will build on a 4.5-acre site in Sky Park industrial park south of Payson Municipal Airport.
"Instead of a 40,000-square-foot building, he's going to build a 30,000-square-foot building," Payson Mayor Ray Schum said.
To make up for the lost space, Hill wants to use the existing maintenance building for his company's offices.
If we can postpone spending $300,000 for the office part of the building, we're cutting our risks so we can still come in the same timeframe," Hill said. "The mayor told us we could."
The maintenance yard currently occupying the site Hill is purchasing will be moved to another location on airport property. Schum said the maintenance building stays with the land, and therefore Hill already owns it.
"He just came up here to make sure it was his and that everything was fine that it was handicapped accessible and everything else was up to code," Schum said.
Councilmember Hoby Herron, who expressed his displeasure with the terms The Door Stop received at a recent council meeting, is not so sure Hill owns the building.
"(Town Manager Rich) Underkofler told me we sold him the building along with the land, but I don't remember seeing that in the contract," Herron said.
The Door Stop originally intended to use the building as a construction office, and then give it back to the town, according to Hill. The new plan is to add office space onto the new manufacturing facility when economic conditions stabilize, and at that point give the maintenance building back to the town.
While sales are still up for The Door Stop, Hill said a decline in housing starts will eventually impact his company.
"They don't get to the point where they impact us for three or four months," Hill said. "The National Association of Homebuilders is forecasting a drop of 15 to 20 percent over the next year, and then we'll bounce back," he said.
Other factors Hill has been paying attention to include how much his new building is going to cost, and whether he can sell his existing facility in Chandler.
"We've talked to a lot of people," he said, "and right now we're looking at leasing it out instead of selling it."
Herron said he has no reason to want to hold back The Door Stop.
"Now that we've spent the money, which I didn't want to do, I'm all for making it go," he said. "I don't want to get blamed for them not getting here. We should do all we can to make sure they're a success short, that is, of spending taxpayer's money."
Meanwhile, Hill is keeping job applicants informed. Some 157 were interviewed when the company held a job fair Sept. 8. Hill plans to hire about 50 people initially at a starting salary of $7.50 to $12/hour. Another 10 supervisory personnel will earn from $27,500 to $40,000 annually.
"We've written a letter or two to everyone to keep them as posted as we can keep them," Hill said. "We still want to be up there by next summer. We still want to start training the first of the year."