Janesville67.3°

Green-Tek moving from Edgerton to former Lear building

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JAMES P. LEUTE
September 26, 2009
— A landlord-tenant dispute in Edgerton will bring about 50 jobs to Janesville and fill a sizable building vacated by the city’s vanishing automobile manufacturing sector.

The Edgerton-based Green-Tek will begin moving into the former Lear Corp. building next week.


The company, which moved to Edgerton in 1993, is a converter, fabricator and distributor of packaging materials, greenhouse coverings, thermal glazing and materials handling products.


It will bring along its spin-off company, Coextruded Plastic Technologies, a food packaging business.


“I’m really conflicted about moving,” said Paul Jacobson, Green-Tek’s president. “We never had any intention of leaving Edgerton. We’re a big booster for this community and have a lot of good friends here.


“It’s important for people to understand that Jim Grafft is entirely responsible for this move.”


Grafft, a Janesville businessman, is Green-Tek’s landlord at the former Dorsey Trailer plant on Fulton Street in Edgerton. The two sides have been locked in a variety of recent disputes, and Green-Tek’s lease expires Nov. 30.


“We have to go somewhere and sadly it can’t be in Edgerton,” Jacobson said, noting that his company leases about 163,000 square feet of space that isn’t available anywhere else in Edgerton.


“They were offered a lease, and they refused to sign it,” Grafft said.


Jacobson said the 175,000-square-foot Lear building will put Green-Tek next to one of its biggest customers: W.W. Grainger’s Lab Safety Supply. The building is also near major highways, an asset for shipping and receiving, he said.


Green-Tek will occupy about half the building, while CPT will work out of the other half.


Jacobson, who owns the business with Eli and Linda Bracha, said he looked at several vacant buildings between Rockford and Janesville before deciding to buy the Lear property from Todd Kaiser, a Janesville businessman who bought it about a year ago.


“We could have leased it from Todd, but we’re coming off a bad leasing experience and decided to explore ownership,” Jacobson said. “With


the inventory that already exists, it didn’t make sense to build.


“That is the premier building between Rockford and Madison, and Todd has been great about everything and he’s really put the building in fine shape.”


Kaiser, who also owns Kaiser Transport, said earlier this year he bought the property with the intention of bringing jobs to Janesville.


Friday, he said he’s thrilled it happened so quickly, particularly with a top-notch company.


“Green-Tek is a great company with a great reputation, and I really think the CPT side of it has a lot of potential,” Kaiser said.


As economic conditions permit, the companies could add 25 to 30 jobs in the next two or three years, Jacobson said.


Green-Tek was formed in 1986 around a kitchen table in Janesville. It moved into a 3,000-square-foot building on Highway 14 in 1986, when Jacobson said “the three of us would have sold you an old shoelace if it meant making payroll.”


The company moved to Edgerton and the former Nunn Bush Shoe building, which Grafft owns, in 1993. In 1998, Grafft bought the Dorsey property, and Green-Tek moved in three years later.


“Everyone in our company is conflicted with the move,” Jacobson said. “They’re excited on a business level because we’re moving to an industrial palace. But the problem is that we all have good friends here.”


Jacobson said Edgerton administrators did all they could to keep Green-Tek in town. He acknowledged that the company will need to work with the city to pay back some incentives that were tied to its presence in Edgerton.


Grafft said Friday that he doesn’t anticipate any problem finding a new tenant for the Edgerton facility. One possibility, he said, is the engine division of Tecumseh Power Co., which Grafft bought earlier this year and recently located on Jackson Street in Janesville.


James Otterstein, Rock County’s economic development manager, said the county is lucky to retain Green-Tek.


“The objective from Day One, given the problems between the company and its landlord, was to do everything we could to resolve the real estate issue in Edgerton, and if they couldn’t stay there then at least keep them in the county,” Otterstein said.


Otterstein also offered kudos to Kaiser, who “purchased a piece of real estate, positioned it for future opportunity and then followed through until it happened.”



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