By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - If good news is contagious, then word of a St. Albans couple's purchase of the Fayscott Co. building and some new local jobs could prompt more positive vibes in a community hurt by foreign labor.David and Clairina Cohen, who have experience in small businesses, closed on the vacant machine shop Nov. 22 and already have relocated two of their businesses to the facility and have started three new ventures.
In recent weeks, Detroit Tool Inc. and its offshoots - Century Cable Construction and Century Trucking - were relocated from the Detroit area to the Dexter facility.
The couple also has formed Advance Fabrication, a full fabrication and welding machine shop, Maine Public Warehouse Inc., and Mid Maine Mini Storage, which offers heated storage inside the 123,000-square-foot building.
"It's kind of ironic that [I sell tools and] I bought a building that made tools," Cohen said Thursday.
Cohen said he had his sights set on the vacant factory for some time and even attended an auction for the liquidation of the machinery this summer. But the idea that the machinery was being sold from a building with such a rich history soured him, and he left before the auction concluded.
Later, he contacted the building's owners and began negotiations.
Other than the need for roof repair, some cosmetic work and a rugged cleaning, the building was in good shape, Cohen said. He said he plans to make full use of the resources including access to air pressure every 10 feet, the electrical system, and the few original machines from the foundry he managed to find and buy.
"There's a lot of opportunities here. You just have to push your way through the door and go," Cohen said. Having been in business for most of his life, Cohen said, he knows which doors to push. "I've had the drive to be self-employed my whole life and the last time I worked for someone was the Marine Corps," he said.
Although Cohen is the chief executive officer and his wife is president, they consider themselves employees, not administrators. "We're all part of a team," they said. Their current staff totals 15.
"This corporation's primary goal is to successfully operate a small business in central Maine and provide head-of-the-household income to our employees and basically provide a stable work environment," he said.
As the fabrication business grows, Cohen hopes, he will add more employees. He said the company, which fabricates racks for pickup trucks, will tackle any customized job, big or small. Overhead cranes inside the building will help with larger projects.
Cohen also plans to investigate the possibility of installing plastic-injection-molding machines to manufacture plastic parts.
To help his cash flow, Cohen has reserved a portion of the factory for storage, both for commercial and small items. Vehicles, a boat and other equipment already have been tucked inside the building for safe storage. Small storage units with carpeted floors also will be available for lease. In addition, there is an area designed for the safe unloading of pallets.
In addition, a Mount Vernon hardwood pallet maker has moved his operation to Dexter and is leasing long-term about 15,000 square feet in the mill, Cohen said.
"With the business climate the way it is in Maine, you have to be more diversified," Cohen said, so he plans to look into all commercial opportunities.
"I think the business has to develop with as little debt as possible, and it will with hard work," Cohen said.
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