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Westminster Firm Plans Expansion, Will Add 30 Jobs

March 6, 2011 : Sentinel and Enterprise, by Dan O’Brien

WESTMINSTER – A local maker of metal machining fabrications and assemblies recently landed $6.2 million in tax-exempt bonds to help fund an expansion that will add up to 30 jobs and expand its Bella Drive facility by 15 percent.

Ranor Inc., one of two subsidiaries of TechPrecision Corp., has acquired Ranor’s 125,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at 1 Bella Drive for $4.3 million, and will construct a 19,500-square-foot addition this year. It will also build a new gantry milling machine, a device used to cut solid materials.

“This has been on the radar for several years, and we now have the robust demand to justify it,” said Richard F. Fitzgerald, chief financial officer for TechPrecision, in a recent telephone interview. “Owning our own building is in our best interest because it gives us strategic control.”

The Bella Drive building’s seller was WM Realty Management, an entity controlled by Andrew Levy, a TechPrecision director.

By all accounts, publicly-held TechPrecision’s business is booming. Revenue for its fiscal third quarter, which ended Dec. 31, was $9.7 million – 84 percent higher than the comparable year-ago period. Net income was $829,126, more than four times that of the year-ago quarter.

In February alone, TechPrecision announced three contracts totaling $3 million – one each from the defense, solar and medical industries.

“There’s not too many blue-collar type businesses doing this well,” Fitzgerald acknowledged. “It’s a nice story.”

Fitzgerald said the Bella Drive plant currently employs about 140 people. He said the expansion should allow Ranor to reach maximum capacity for its current business, and that the new gantry mill will allow the company to process projects 35 percent faster than existing tool sets.

TechPrecision is the holding company for two subsidiaries – Ranor Inc. in Westminster and Wuxi Critical Mechanical Components Co. Ltd. in China. The company makes large-scale, metal fabricated and machined precision components and equipment for the solar, wind, medical, nuclear and defense industries.

Fitzgerald said the Chinese entity, which includes a new facility, will not take business from the Westminster unit.

“There are some things, and military projects are one of them, that have to be done on U.S. shores,” he said.

The tax-exempt bonds used to fund the expansion were issued through MassDevelopment, a quasi-public agency that works with businesses and communities to stimulate economic growth. Spokeswoman Kelsey Abbruzzese said the agency acts as a conduit between companies and financial institutions to help secure the tax-exempt bonds.

“Think of us as a tube connecting the business with the bank,” Abbruzzese said. “Sovereign Bank purchased the bond; Ranor will pay Sovereign.”

She said MassDevelopment reviews applications for creditworthiness and “public purpose.”

Shares of TechPrecision, which recorded fiscal 2010 sales of $28.35 million, closed Friday at $1.78 in over-the-counter trading. They have doubled in price since last August.

© Copyright 2011 Sentinel and Enterprise.