Catamount Sitings

GBIC's Catamount Industrial Park, home to a dozen manufacturing and added-value businesses, is poised for more.

by Virginia Lindauer Simmon

Catamount Industrial Park sits on U.S. 7 north of Exit 17 off Interstate 89. It's been a landmark for commuters since it was developed by the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp. and its sister corporation, Cynosure, nearly 25 years ago.

A dozen businesses operate out of Catamount; all but two own their lots and buildings. Nine lots remain available.

"We could have sold the park out years ago, but we tried to focus upon entities that are going to pay higher wages and have either manufacturing or added value to goods or services. So we look the companies over pretty well before we sell a lot in there to them," says GBIC's president, Frank Cioffi.

These days, Catamount finds itself at a crossroads in its development, "because for it to be a viable industrial park, it needs public waste water," Cioffi says. GBIC has been working with the town of Milton to get wastewater services to the park.

Burlington Drug Co.
150 employees; 105,000 square feet

Chris Mitiguy

Burlington Drug Co. is a regional distributor of pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter health care products, "typically what you'd find in a community pharmacy," says Michael Mitiguy, president. It has been in the Mitiguy family since the turn of the 20th century, when Wells-Richardson sold it to Mitiguy's forebears.

The company's trading area includes Vermont, New Hampshire, most of southern Maine, northern Massachusetts and a chunk of New York state about 100 miles south and west of Albany.

In 1988, Burlington Drug acquired Dowling Grocery, a full-line distributor to convenience stores.

There seems to be no danger of running out of family to manage the business. Michael's brother, John, is president of the Dowling division. Their cousin Chris Mitiguy is vice president, and cousin Maria Mitiguy-Burns is corporate secretary of Burlington Drug. Michael's son, John Patrick, or JP, also works for the company.

Plastic Monofil Co. Ltd.
30 employees, 40,000 square feet

George Lavigne

Plastic Monofil has been in the area for 30 years, according to George Lavigne, the general manager. "We do molding and extrusion and also have Green Mountain Knits."

The knitting operation produces collars, waistbands and cuffs for outerwear. The in-house molders produce corner protectors for the bedding trade. The extrusion process produces furniture welting and screen spline for windows.

Plastic Monofil started its business at the Champlain Mill, says Lavigne. "Urban renewal kicked us out, and we went to Fort Ethan Allen." When the fort was designated for rehabilitation, the company moved to Catamount as its first business entity.

"The park wasn't quite ready for us, but Harry Behney [a former GBIC president] made accommodations for us, so I have lots of nice things to say about the park and catering to us small guys."

Relax-R Corp.
120 employees; 23,000 square feet, about to expand

Butch and Patti McCracken

Relax-R Corp. is a chair company that sells to the wholesale trade all over the United States. "We have offices in the United Kingdom; we sell to Panama and Mexico and Canada," says Patti McCracken, vice president of operations, who, with her husband, Butch, the president, owns Relax-R.

The company makes swivel chairs, glide chairs, recliners, love seats and Shiatsu chairs that massage the sitting body.

Relax-R is a partner with a Canadian manufacturer that makes metal chairs. "We do all the marketing and sales to the U.S. and Canada," says Patti, "they make the frames, we get cushions from other manufacturers and apply the cushions to the frames and ship them out."

The McCrackens started their business in St. Albans, but soon outgrew their space and moved to Catamount. The St. Albans space lay vacant until the company's growth required its reopening. An addition is planned at Catamount to ease the space crunch.

The McCrackens enthusiastically praise GBIC for its help during their move. "They gave us some great leads for contractors, helped us get the building, helped us get contacts for lawn-mowing services, security system, etc.," says Patti.

Catamount Children's Center
13 employees; 4,000 square feet

Linda Mahoney

Linda Mahoney has been in the child care business for 20 years, 14 of them at Catamount. The children's center serves parents from all over the region, but a number of them have parents or grandparents who work right in the park.

"It's very convenient for me to work here," says Mahoney, who lives "two minutes away."

Mahoney says GBIC was "wonderful" and "very helpful" when she and her husband and business partner, Patrick, were seeking a spot for the children's center in the park.

The children's center cares for 74 children, ranging in ages from 6 weeks to 11 years. "We take them until age 12," Mahoney says. "Our building is designed for that many children, and we have different rooms for different ages.

U.S. Mailing Systems/Villanti & Sons Printers
95 employees; 34,000 square feet

Jon (front) and Jay Villanti

Until three years ago, Villanti & Sons Printers and its sister company U.S. Mailing systems operated out of a building on Industrial Avenue in Williston. In 1999, U.S. Mailing moved to Catamount, and 18 months ago, the printing company followed.

"We do general high-end color printing, and we do a lot of print mail work and direct mail," says Tony Villanti, the company president.

Tony's father started the printing end of the business in the basement of the family house in the mid 1950s. "We were just little kids and of course, started out working in it then," he says. "We" refers to Tony and his brother, Mike, who also works in the business." Following college and a period in the Air Force, Tony returned to find that his father had incorporated with another man. He and Mike bought them out and Villanti & Sons was launched.

A third generation is now active, as Villanti's sons Jay, vice president for manufacturing, and Jon, vice president for information technology, have joined the business.

"We're kind of generalists; we do a little bit of everything," Tony says. "We have the latest in technology, both in the desktop and in the presses. We're running a Heidelberg eight colors and 40-inch full-size, a full bindery plus in-house mailing.

To serve a number of customers in New York City, Villanti & Sons has an office there. "It was a tough place to have an office after Sept. 11," Tony says.

McQuesten Co.
13 employees; 21,000 square feet on 11 acres

Chris Macfarlane

McQuesten is a wholesaler in building products that distributes lumber to the retail trade throughout Vermont, upstate New York as far west as Syracuse, and the western side of New Hampshire "including the panhandle," quips branch manager Chris Macfarlane describing the slender area at the top of the state.

Privately owned by a Hattiesburg, Miss., family, the company moved into this market in 1989. "Years ago, the company had a branch in Albany, N.Y., similar to ours. This market really didn't have a specialty wholesaler like us," says Macfarlane.

McQuesten specializes in eastern white pine, western cedars and Douglas firs, southern yellow pine and engineered wood products, such as manufactured wood I-joists, laminated veneer lumber and architectural glue laminates.

Also at Catamount Industrial Park

Ascension Technology Corp.

Coyne Textile

Genfoot America Inc.

Interstate Technology and Aerospace Corp.

Terry Hill Trucking Co.

Verizon

Originally published in July 2002 Business People-Vermont