Manufacturer to boost original-equipment production

Manufacturer to boost original-equipment production

Ryan, Jim T

YORK COUNTY

York County-based Datum Filing Systems Inc. is expanding.

The storage-system and office-furniture maker expects to add two more large machines to its factory in Manchester Township in the coming months and employees as needed by the second quarter of 2008, said Thomas Potter, Datum’s president.

The expansion will help Datum keep up with demand for originalequipment manufacturing, or OEM. The equipment is sold to other companies, which sell it with their labels. Depending on growth of OEM accounts, Datum plans to add between eight and 1 0 employees over the next two years, Potter said. Currently, it employs 121 people.

Datum is adding more OEM work to help diversify its operations, Potter said.

“Other job shops are looking for products to manufacture. We already have those, so we can fill that other need (for contract work),” he said.

Datum will continue to manufacture its storage shelves, but it’s preparing for a future when less space will be needed to store more information.

Datum’s leaders have mixed feelings about expanding technology. While most machines in the company’s factory are run by a computer, the panding digital age has started to cut into Datum’s file-storage business. Datum designs cabinets and space-efficient rolling shelves for use by hospitals and doctors’ offices.

“Digital X-rays have really impacted the business,” Potter said.

Ironically, one of Datum’s top-selling products is a steel security cabinet for computers, Potter said.

The first new machine to be added to the factory is a metal punch and press, which will be delivered Aug. 14, Potter said.

Datum will also add a laser cutting machine, which it hopes to have up and running by January. The automated machines are capable of cutting metal faster and with less waste. That will streamline Datum’s production and give it a competitive advantage, Potter said.

The added machines will not require Datum to expand its 120,000-square-foot factory on a hill overlooking the unincorporated village of Emigsville. That area of Manchester and East Manchester townships off Interstate 83 is home to many other manufacturers, such as Strine Printing Company Inc. and York Saw & Knife Co.

“It’s a success for (Datum), because not only did they come here and build a factory, but they exceeded their job-creation estimates, expanded and built a second factory,” said Kenetha Hansen, vice president of economic development for the Yo rkCounty Economic Development Corp.

Hansen helped put together loan packages through the YCEDC and the York County Industrial Development Authority in 1991 for Datum to move to the area from Long Island, NY.

Datum received about $1-4 million in loans to build its first factory in York. In 1992, Datum sold the smaller factory and built its current facility for about S3 million. It also added more than Sl million worth of equipment. YCIDA also helped Datum with taxexempt loans for that project. The newest factory has additional land on one side to accommodate expansion.

The company’s sales grew from just under S3 million in 1992 to about $20 million this year.

“It was unbelievable growth,” Potter said. “For years, we had double digits.”

Datum brought 22 employees with it when the family business moved to Pennsylvania. Thomas Potter and his three brothers, Chris, Steve and Bill Potter, are the principals. The company was started in 1968 by their father, Frank Potter, who also moved to Central Pennsylvania.

BY JIM T. RYAN

jim@journalpub.com

Copyright Journal Publications Inc. Aug 3, 2007

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