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 Genet, 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.
MRA Multisport Update – Alex Rogozenski of MRA Multisports updated the Board regarding his company’s potential use of Marion’s Camp for triathlon related activities. MMA Multisport has rented Marion’s Camp for earlier morning swims for the past two years as well as hosting a mini triathlon there back on June 21.
He said 185 people took part in the June 21 event even though he didn’t begin accepting registrations in March. Ten percent of the participants were Sutton and an additional 10 percent came from surrounding communities. He had over 60 volunteers to help with the event and 25 percent were from Sutton. Rogozenski said this included Boy Scouts and high school students. Many lake residents helped with various aspects of the race as well, he said, adding the response had been overwhelmingly positive.
Selectman Michael Chizy said he thought everything went well and heard no complaints. Hersom asked if he was already planning for next year and Rogozenski said that he was. He said they were trying to figure out which charities to support and this year it had been the Wounded Warrior Foundation.
Rogozenski asked for permission to run the race next year on Friday, June 20, though he would like to move the start time to 6 p.m. to have everyone finished by 8:30 p.m. He said he felt the optimum size for the field was 300 participants as long as the pavilion and fields were not available for use. He also requested the beach be closed on that day in order to facilitate setting up for the event or at least have it close early. Chizy said he was not in favor of closing the beach, which is open 12-6 p.m., but might be willing to close it a little early.
Hersom asked Smith if the contract he had signed with Rogozenski had expired and Smith said it needed to be renegotiated every year. He asked Smith how the fee structure was negotiated and Smith said that $5 per participant for the triathlon seemed fair. The daily swim fee was similar to what the town charged other groups, about $230 for a local preschool and $5 per person for a women’s group.
Hersom said Rogozenski already posted the event on his website. He agreed he had but it was all tentative—he wasn’t taking registrations yet. Hersom said by his calculations, MRA Multisports had made over $12,000 for these activities while the town of Sutton made a little over $800. With 300 participants, Hersom said Rogozenski would make over $21,000.
Hersom said he did not believe it was something the town should be involved with because of all of the risk. He also saw a huge inequity between what Rogozenski was brining in versus what the town was getting. Hersom said he wanted to see Smith negotiate a better deal for the town, more in line with what he thought was fair.
Rogozenski said after paying for police, fire, catering, fence rentals, and other expenses, he actually made about $800 on the triathlon. “It’s a huge production from a cost perspective,” he said, but he was willing to discuss the issue.
Stuart said he has not changed his mind about MRA Multisports’ use of the beach and saw the event as a good way to provide positive publicity for Marion’s Camp. He thought capping the event made sense since he had no desire to see it turn into Woodstock. He said there had been some complaints about chaos at the beginning and end of the race but this was because the event was being held for the first time.
Hall said the feedback he got was very good but he also thought that concerns about revenue raised by Hersom were valid. Hall added that he would not close the beach but that he would consider closing it earlier in the day. Rogozenski said that he really needed the parking lot cleared more than he needed the beach closed.
Rogozenski said he wanted to discuss lighting issues with the public safety people in order to get everyone safely back to their cars. He said that he planned to discuss with this with the police and fire departments. Smith said lighting should be available at the Camp by next year.