Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Air Products will move HQ

by  Andrew Wagaman Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call

ith facilities in 50 countries around the world, Air Products truly has a global footprint.

As for that new corporate headquarters? The Trexlertown industrial gas company will build it on a property it once owned, about 2,000 steps away from its sprawling 235-acre campus.

Air Products told employees Tuesday morning that it will build an approximately 10-story office building, an enclosed parking garage with a running track on the roof, and a research and development facility on 53 acres along Mill Creek Road in Upper Macungie Township.

The announcement officially reaffirms the Fortune 500 company’s commitment to the Lehigh Valley 70 years after it arrived in the region

The site, which developer David Jaindl owns under agreement with Liberty Property Trust, is bounded by Grange Road and the Route 222 bypass to the north and is just east of the Uline industrial complex on Mill Creek and Uline Way. It’s one mile east of Air Products’ campus at 7201 Hamilton Blvd.

The company expects to break ground in March and hopes to occupy the complex by summer 2021. The company did not disclose a cost estimate for the project Tuesday.

"The decision to leave our current headquarters location, with its rich history, was not one we made lightly,” President and CEO Seifi Ghasemi said in a news release. “But we believe our new location will afford us a special opportunity to modernize and optimize our office space and R&D facilities and invest in a work environment that motivates and energizes our employees.

“As a global company operating in more than 50 countries, this new headquarters will reflect the safety, speed, simplicity and self-confidence that move us forward as a world-leading industrial gas company,” he said.

Employees will continue to work on its existing campus during construction and completion of the new facilities, but the company also will put the Trexlertown campus up for sale.

The company has about 2,250 employees in the Lehigh Valley, and most of them are based at the Trexlertown campus. The new location will be the base for about 2,000 employees, with “capacity for growth,” the company said.

Air Products employs about 15,000 people worldwide.
We’re obviously elated,” said James Brunell, chairman of the Upper Macungie Township Board of Supervisors. “They’ve been an excellent resident in the township and we are ecstatic that they have decided to stay in the township.”

Township Manager Robert Ibach said Air Products has not yet submitted official development plans.

Construction of the existing campus began in the mid-1950s after founder Leonard Parker Pool relocated the company from Chattanooga, Tenn. He began the company in 1940 in Detroit.

Ghasemi said its headquarters, with 1.5 million square feet of office space and labs, is old and expensive to maintain — more than $20 million annually, according to an interview last year. A big believer in culture and perception, he also dislikes all the empty space in the administration building, given Air Products’ reputation as a “progressive company” that designs state-of-the-art facilities for clients around the world.

“We should have a headquarters that reflects the technology of today,” he said last October. “The environment subconsciously affects your sense of pride in the company, and that’s very important to maintain.”

Air Products told employees it was exploring options for a modernized headquarters in the Lehigh Valley in April 2017. The company considered renovating its campus, building on a nearby site, relocating to a property surrounding the Promenade Shops in Upper Saucon Township and moving to the Neighborhood Improvement Zone in downtown Allentown.

In December, it eliminated Allentown as a potential location because executives decided no sites had the right space for its research labs.

Regardless of the site, Ghasemi indicated the headquarters design would feature consolidated operations in a taller office building. In February, Upper Macungie’s Board of Supervisors adopted a rule allowing developers to construct office buildings as tall as 150 feet, triple the previous limit of 50 feet, in the township’s light industrial park and limited light industrial park zoning districts.
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