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Durasol buys Geiger building, looks to grow

MIDDLEBURY — In anticipation of continued growth of its commercial awning manufacturing business, KE Durasol Awning Co. has purchased the building on Pond Lane that formerly served as the headquarters of Geiger of Austria.
Durasol on June 27 closed on the $1.8 million purchase of the 51,600-square-foot building on 19.1 acres at 38 Pond Lane. The sale was facilitated through $720,000 in financing through the Vermont Economic Development Authority.
“We are as busier than ever,” said Durasol office manager Norma Rollet, crediting strong sales from national accounts.
She was hiring three new employees for manufacturing production work last week, and foresees a few more hires in the next year. As the company manages its growth it has also hired Frank Dorr as its chief operating officer. Dorr, who started this summer, brings management experience at Dynapower Co. and VMAS, among other places, Rollet said.
Durasol manufactures and installs shades and coverings for windows, doors and patios for retail and restaurant businesses, developers and general contractors throughout the United States and Canada.
Durasol had been leasing 27,600 square feet in the building from Geiger since 2009, when it moved from smaller space nearby on Exchange Street. Rollet said the company was still figuring out exactly how it would use the additional space.
Geiger, meanwhile, continues operations in the building, though in a smaller footprint. The company moved into the space more than 30 years ago and at one point employed 70 people there making high-end women’s clothing. Much of the operations have moved back to Europe, but Geiger still manages sales and distribution to North America through the Pond Lane office, according to Executive Vice President Wolfgang Miska.
Geiger had been trying to sell the building for several years, and reduced the amount of space it occupied there to 18,000 square feet after Durasol moved in four years ago. Now it is renting 5,000 square feet for its operations, which employ four people. Miska said the company sees stock come and go quickly as it uses a just-in-time receiving and fulfillment strategy, which means the clothing arrives from manufacturing and is quickly sent out to wholesales and retailers who have already arranged to purchase it.
Miska said he has seen business picking up some as the overall economy improves and Geiger customers have more disposable income.
“We are still here and we intend to be here for a while,” he said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

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