Rockland Manufacturing Purchases Former HWI Site in Blair County | WTAJ


BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Bedford County-based manufacturing company Rockland Manufacturing has purchased the former Harbison Walker International building in Claysburg.

The 44-acre site on Quarry Road has been on the market for over three and a half years. The company closed the building due to downsizing and regional reorganization.

Rockland Manufacturing president Bo Pratt said he plans to use the building to house his sister company Equipment Lock. Then later they will add new facilities for shipping and manufacturing.

“The property is great for us as a new way to start storing and shipping things. Eventually we will make things,” Pratt said. “Finally, more and more people are coming out of this place like before.”

Pratt said this property is unique because of the historical context associated with the building. He is thrilled to be able to rebuild the factory into something new.

Besides the growth of the company, the expansion aims to provide more comfort to current and future employees. Employees who live in Blair County can travel a shorter distance to work.

“It would be great if we could, you know, move some of these Rocklanders out and be a little closer to home and save a little gas to get to work,” Pratt said. “Then recruit new people who want to come and learn what it means to be a Rocklander.”

Pratt said construction plans to be done in phases once all utilities are operational. The first phase will be to relocate Equipment Lock Company employees to one of the buildings. The second phase will involve improving the warehouse area by repairing gas lines, moving plate equipment and installing cranes. The third phase involves moving the warehouse from its current location in Bedford to Claysburg.

Blair County officials said the new purchase was a big win. It creates new jobs, but it also sustains the local workforce and economy. Altoona Blair County Development Corporation President and CEO Stephen McKnight said Rockland’s purchase of the site was a great result.

“Any time a manufacturing plant expansion stays in your community,” McKnight said. “It just means a multiplier effect in terms of maintaining employment here, retaining all existing employees. Then adding employees and all that buying power doesn’t leave our market. And that’s Extremely important.

80th District Representative Jim Gregory thinks the business wouldn’t have expanded to that area if it hadn’t recognized the county’s workforce.

“They obviously appreciate what this area has to offer because it’s helped them get to where they are now, and it can help them where they want to be in the future,” Rep. Gregory said.

Light operations could begin at the building as early as this spring; however, the long-term plans do not have a definitive timeline. Pratt said this new building should create between 50 and 75 jobs within the next year and a half. If anyone wants to apply, they can contact the company to put their name on it.

“We’re happy to talk to anyone who wants to build equipment with us,” Pratt said. “Bedford County, Blair County is a great area with a lot of great people, and we are thrilled to grow there and with everyone.”

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