Less than a year after Colortree Group abruptly closed its Henrico printing plant and laid off 240 workers, another operator is lined up to take over the building, where it plans to invest $31 million and create about as many new jobs.
Gov. Ralph Northam joined state and county officials Tuesday in announcing that Moore, an international direct mail and digital marketing company, will add 239 jobs to establish its Richmond Print Group at the former Colortree building at 8000 Villa Park Drive, with an emphasis on hiring former Colortree employees.
Based in Oklahoma, Moore provides services to nonprofits, and commercial and government clients. The company, which consists of 33 subsidiaries, totals 2,500 employees in 18 offices across the country and in Hong Kong.
The Richmond facility will focus on manufacturing envelopes, according to a release put out after Tuesday’s announcement at the plant. Moore plans to purchase and install modernized equipment at the facility that will allow it to bring its envelope production in-house and increase its direct mail output, the release said.
Founder and owner Jim Moore said the company had worked with Colortree in the past and offered to buy it when Colortree’s financial situation went south, but an agreement couldn’t be reached before Colortree closed last June on its way to being forced into bankruptcy.
“Colortree was a very good supplier to a number of our companies around the country,” Moore said after the announcement. “Our Baltimore facility, our D.C. facility, they used to buy envelopes from this plant.
“We knew that they were challenged and we approached them about buying it. We couldn’t come to terms, and we couldn’t come to terms with the bank, so at that point, we waited to see what happened at the auction,” he said.
Colortree equipment was sold off in a court-authorized auction in September, though Moore said his company did not purchase much of those items in light of its plans to modernize the facility.
“The new generation of equipment is where we’re going in this facility,” he said.
Building sold for $12M
The 142,000-square-foot building, on a 12.8-acre site next door to the Brown Distributing Co. facility, sold Jan. 23 for $12 million, property records show. Moore purchased it through an entity called Villa Park Properties LLC, which lists an office address in Northern Virginia. The latest county assessment valued the property at $8.2 million.
Constructed in 1989, the building was last purchased in 2016, when Pennsylvania-based Stewart Cos. paid $11 million for the structure that Colortree leased. The direct mail marketing company had operated for 31 years, returning to local ownership in 2017 when CEO James “Pat” Patterson purchased a majority stake after a five-year stint with a private equity partner.
Moore said talks about purchasing the property resumed after Colortree’s closure.
“We talked to the landlord – the landlord had repossessed the building – and we cut a deal to buy it,” Moore said. “Now, it’s going to be pretty easy to have a successful operation here, because all the work that used to be done here came from a lot of our companies. It’s a natural.”
Since mid-January, the company has renovated the building’s front offices, and refurbished and painted the warehouse space. Moore said it is bringing in new equipment, including two printing converters set to arrive later this month and in April.
Moore said operations should get in full swing in a matter of months.
Also on hand for Tuesday’s announcement was Moore CEO Gretchen Littlefield, who was named to that post in March 2019, as well as dozens of Moore employees who donned company T-shirts and toured the facility after the event.
Littlefield delivered remarks along with Northam, state commerce and trade secretary Brian Ball and Henrico supervisor Frank Thornton, whose Fairfield District includes the site.
Afterward, Thornton said he welcomed Moore’s arrival in Henrico and the region.
“I’m extremely happy to have this building non-shuttered. That’s a good thing for the community, for the county and for the economy in general,” Thornton said.
“Whenever a company folds, we get saddened with that, so now, with this new company coming in, we can take away the handkerchief and have a new vista. That in itself is a good thing,” he said.
Moore was secured for the site with collaboration from Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Henrico EDA and the Port of Virginia. The state is providing a $100,000 grant through its Opportunity Fund to assist the county with the project. The company also is eligible for benefits through job creation and the port’s development zone grant program.