Firm overhauls abandoned New Holland silk mill for new HQ
A large portion of an abandoned silk mill in New Holland had to be demolished before J.M. Lapp Plumbing and Heating LLC could begin construction on its new headquarters.
The plumbing, heating and water treatment firm purchased the World War II-era factory after outgrowing its current headquarters at 2919 Old Philadelphia Pike in Leacock Township.
Matt Lapp, the owner of J.M. Lapp, said the company made a splash in the community in May when it bought the factory and surrounding land at 330 E. Main St. in New Holland. He said that before its demolition in June, the building had been a burden on the borough since its last occupant closed 10 years ago.
“When we did walk-throughs we had to chase people out a few times,” Lapp said. “Even when we were waiting to settle, there were times where there were campfires in here. It was just a problem child.”
Lapp said before the factory, which made parachutes, could be demolished, trash that had built up over years of trespassing had to be cleaned out.
JM Lapp purchased the property for $620,000 and demolished 110,000 square feet of the building that was unsafe for use, leaving only two structures standing on the seven-acre parcel.
J.M. Lapp plans to move into a 20,000 square-foot portion of the factory still standing, which will be double the size of the company’s current headquarters. Lapp said he hopes to have finished moving in by the end of December.
The plumbing firm currently has 31 employees.
"If we would be staying (at the former headquarters), we are maxed out with who we could hire," Lapp said. "It gives us the potential to grow more freely and more efficiently."
The pieces of the building that J.M. Lapp left standing were still in good condition. Lapp said that during construction of the new headquarters, all that needed to be done was internal work. The company has also saved money by performing its own heating and plumbing work.
Room for growth
Blueprints for the project show a number of locations that J.M. Lapp could use if it decides to expand. A piece of the factory’s foundation is located next to the new headquarters and Lapp said if an expansion is necessary in the future, the company can build on the existing foundation.
The second building still standing is 22,000 square feet. Lapp plans to lease the space for retail uses. The building is still unfinished, but is expected to be completed by the spring. Lapp added that a portion of the building is a 5,000 square-foot warehouse. A majority of the warehouse will be leased, according to Lapp, with J.M. Lapp keeping some square footage for itself.
Lapp said that he believes the change in location will be a positive one for J.M. Lapp, which has traditionally done most of its business in the West Chester area.
"We did do some work in New Holland but I do think it will increase," he said. "This will give us better visibility."
New Holland Borough Manager Dick Fulcher said J.M. Lapp’s headquarters is a positive addition to the area and that the borough was glad the factory is being occupied.
“It’s a great win-win for the borough,” he said. “We have somebody nice and an unused structure has now been accounted for.”