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Cider maker to buy Connor Homes plant

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Posted on January 10, 2011 |
By John Flowers



MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury manufacturing scene reverberated on Friday with news that Green Mountain Beverage (GMB) will acquire and move into the Connor Homes headquarters on Route 7 South.

Meanwhile, Connor Homes will leave Middlebury and relocate to the now-vacant Vermont Tubbs complex in Brandon.

Middlebury selectboard Chairman John Tenny confirmed that news on Friday as the Addison Independent went to press. Efforts to reach GMB President and CEO Bret Williams and Connor Homes founder Mike Connor were unsuccessful at press time.

Tenny said he was informed of the impending sale of the Connor Homes building (the former headquarters of Standard Register) to GMB late Thursday afternoon. He said the 115,000-square-foot building was proving too spacious for Connor Homes but was seen as offering good growth potential for GMB to make its popular line of Woodchuck hard ciders. The company of 70 workers had announced plans for a 7,400-square-foot addition at its Pond Lane plant along with the placement of three, 25,000-gallon juice storage tanks.

GMB agreed to stay in Middlebury (after entertaining a move to the former Vermont Tubbs facility) when town officials granted the company some tax stabilization guarantees based on a projected increase in taxable real estate and new employees.

Tenny said GMB’s new plans will not jeopardize the tax stabilization agreement, as it is predicated on expansion that will now simply occur at a different site.

Town officials met with Connor Homes officials Friday morning in an effort to find a way for the firm to stay in Middlebury. But the company is committed to the Brandon move, according to Tenny.

“We certainly wish both of these companies well,” Tenny said.

The Addison Independent will update this story as more details become available.

Michael Connor founded Connor Homes around 17 years ago. The company, which specializes in colonial reproduction kit homes, quickly grew from a handful of employees to 32 in early 2007, prompting Connor to grow the business out of the 14,000 square feet it was occupying off Exchange Street. He seized the opportunity during the spring of 2007 when Standard Register vacated its Route 7 South headquarters. Connor Homes purchased the property, viewing it as a location into which it could grow and meet increasing demand, while eventually boosting its workforce to 90 or more employees.

But Connor Homes, like so many in the construction industry, has had to refine its business plan after seeing business ebb during past few years following some historic highs.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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