UPDATE: A prominent figure involved in County development writes that Phoenix Hudson has “ceased operations.”
The arrival of Phoenix Hudson last Fall occasioned the usual breathless local media hype, and backslapping among the Columbia County development establishment.
Phoenix, the latest company to take a shot at occupying the 70,000 square foot former Emsig button factory on 2nd Street, was expected to begin manufacturing plastic fencing by October 2012, “running at capacity by November” of last year.
“By the end of the year we hope to be up at around 20 to 25 people working there,” President John Tonelli told the Register-Star.
Tonelli received the customary invitation to address the Hudson Rotary. Then in June 2013, the Chamber of Commerce bestowed upon him its Business Person of the Year award, passing over more established businesses such as Basilica Hudson.
Lately, though, this site has received persistent tips to check into the status of Phoenix. Some even claim that the company has either already abandoned Hudson, or is on the verge of doing so. A daytime phone call to their office reached only a bland voicemail message, with no company directory. (Note: The Hudson Development Corporation provided the wrong number for Phoenix, sending me instead to Coldwell Banker.)
An in-person weekday visit to the company’s headquarters at the old button factory did not yield any signs of an active business employing 20-25 people. A single white Mercedes was parked out front, with plenty of weeds coming up through the concrete around the shuttered loading bays.
A lone employee emerged, identifying himself as “Dmitri.” Asked whether Phoenix was hiring, or manufacturing anything in the building, Dmitri indicated that for now the company is just selling off “existing inventory.” Would the company actually start making products locally at at some point? “Probably some time next year,” he said, though not too confidently.