Access TCA shows interest in Sutton site
BY TOM REILLY
Michael Yag, chief executive officer of Access TCA, a company that is a leader in exhibits, events, and digital marketing, made a presentation to the Sutton Board of Selectmen on Sept. 17 regarding his company’s plan to move much of its operations to Sutton. Prior to his speaking, town administrator Jim Smith said the company is seeking a 15-year Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) agreement, similar to what the town gave Atlas Box, one of Access TCA’s business partners. In return, the company will build a $15 million facility at the end of Gilmore Drive where it abuts Mendon Road.
He said this company ran an ideal operation—a first shift only business between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday with an occasional Saturday. He said there were only five or six truck trips a day, meaning a minimal impact on the neighborhood. “This is the ideal use for that particular site,” said Smith.
Smith said town planner Jen Hager and Rod Jane, a consultant hired by TCA, have worked to complete a grant to the MassWorks infrastructure program for a 1.6 mile natural gas pipeline from the center of Northbridge to Gilmore Drive at a cost of $787,000. Smith said getting this approved was a huge factor but now all the town could do was wait. He praised Hager for pulling all of this together in about a week.
Yag said the company was founded in 1985 with five employees in a 9,000 square foot facility in the same Whitinsville mill building it still occupies today. Currently TCA uses portions of three mill buildings amounting to 220,000 square feet to house its 111 employees, along with portions of three other mill buildings. The company has expanded into Atlanta and Las Vegas, Yang said and has 175 employees in ten states. He said that the revenue projected for the business this year is $65 million, the best year out of the 28 the company has been in business. The company is financially secure with almost no debt.
Yag said this was precisely the right time to undertake the move to Sutton to help TCA to grow its capabilities. The company does its own design work and it has its own wood, metal, and paint shops. It does its own fabric and graphics printing. Its meeting and events division handles not just exhibits but new product launches and national sales meetings. Yag also indicated it needs significant space for warehousing and offices. He said they were doing a lot more digital media work, which could be anything from “short videos to slide presentations to interactive presentations at trade shows.”
He said the space the company would be occupying in Sutton would house its fabrication and warehouse operations. He showed the selectmen some examples of the exhibits that the company builds for its clients around the country. He also showed a high speed video of what it takes to set up one of the exhibits at a trade show, with everything assembled “by 25 people doing a lot of activities.”
Yag said the reason for building the new facility came down to the fact that when the building was first established that there were no routers, computers and similar technology. “Everything was done by hand,” Yag said, adding the exhibit materials themselves have evolved over the last 28 years. He said this required a different kind of workspace and work flow.
Also, some of his companies facilities had leases expiring soon and this seemed like a good time to consolidate some of those operations. He said they planned to stop major manufacturing at their Atlanta office and to bring all of those activities to the new building in Sutton. He expected the company would be adding 35 employees or more over the next couple of years. Using advanced construction techniques, he hoped to reduce his operating costs while helping the firm become more environmentally responsible.
He also noted the Whitinsville factory buildings did not project the right kind of image for his company and said while it projected history and stability when his company was small, but now it was more important to look contemporary and high tech. He also thought having an office along Route 146, a major New England corridor, enabled the company to become a destination facility for existing and prospective clients. He said it would also improve TCA’s ability to recruit new talent.
Selectman Rick Hersom said he has gone to his fair share of trade shows and was totally in favor of them coming to town. Selectman David Hall liked that they worked hard to make a good impression. He felt the size of the project and the limited impact on the neighbors made this an ideal project.
The Board approved the TIF agreement. TCA will make a five-minute presentation at fall town meeting to sell the voters on the agreement.