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Water testing co. LaMotte opens Glasgow site

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LaMotte Chemical Products Company has hired about 30 workers at its new Glasgow facility and will add dozens more in the next few years. | PHOTO COURTESY OF LAMOTTE CHEMICAL PRODUCTS

GLASGOW – About nine months after securing state support for a research, development and production expansion, LaMotte Chemical Products Company has opened its Delaware site in the Pencader Corporate Center.

Based in Chestertown, Md., LaMotte has invested about $3.3 million into redeveloping a 79,000-square-foot former Siemens Healthineers lab in the office park off Route 896, building more than 29,000 square feet of new, modern lab space.

The 103-year-old firm will receive more than $1.2 million in taxpayer-backed grants for the project, including about $1 million from the Graduated Lab Space Grant Fund and about $190,000 for a performance-based grant to create up to 104 new jobs.

About 30 production and support staff have been hired and trained to begin operations at the Glasgow site, officials told Delaware Business Times. LaMotte continues to hire additional staff for both its Newark and Chestertown facilities, including production technicians, operation/manufacturing shift managers,, maintenance technicians, chemical engineers, quality control technicians and electronic technicians.

“This location is highly valuable for us, given the skilled and educated local workforce and its proximity to global shipping hubs,” LaMotte President and CEO Scott Amsbaugh said in a statement announcing the Nov. 1 opening. “It is critical in our capacity expansion to meet our customers’ growing demands for LaMotte’s products.”  

The company serves a wide range of industries including pool, spa, drinking water, industrial water, food and beverage, sanitation, water and wastewater, and aquarium and fish farming. It started by making test kits that use reagents to change the color of water to display pH balances or other characteristics.

While it was founded in Baltimore in 1919, it moved to its current location about 30 minutes west of Middletown in Kent County, Md., in the 1960s after outgrowing its first home. There, it developed test strips commonly used in pH testing and later electronic meters that increased the accuracy of that procedure.

About a decade ago, it developed an even more sophisticated electronic reader for samples that has been “critical” to its high-end user market, according to Amsbaugh. That product has helped drive a nearly 25% growth in sales in recent years, officials said.

About a year ago, the firm started running out of space at its Chestertown headquarters and was having trouble finding staff, according to LaMotte President and CEO Scott Amsbaugh. That convinced LaMotte to begin looking throughout the Mid-Atlantic, with another site in Pennsylvania a finalist.

LaMotte ended up focusing on the site in Glasgow because it wanted to be within 90 minutes of its existing site – some of its executive staff will split time between the sites – and it needs access to a highly educated and skilled workforce, ability to build out R&D space, and have access to major international shipping routes, Amsbaugh said.

“With the backlog we have, we really want to do this fast and move these plans along as fast as possible. This grant would really go a long way to allow us to do that,” he said. “We want to build out the lab and production and start shipping from the new site later this year.”

LaMotte aims to hire about 57 employees at the Delaware site in its first year, essentially doubling its current workforce, Amsbaugh said. The firm plans to employ about 104 people by the third year of the grant.

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