COVINGTON, Ky. — Yet another growing leader in its industry is moving its corporate headquarters to Covington, and this project, city officials say, boasts a strong “wow factor”:
The numbers are big: M&M Service Station Equipment Specialist Inc., located in Silver Grove in Campbell County, will invest $3.26 million in buying and renovating a 100,700-s.f. building.
It will bring jobs: The company will relocate 48 employees to Covington and plans to hire 16 more people in the next three years.
The company has prestige: M&M Service is the Tri-state leader in petroleum equipment, service and sales. It’s a specialized industry that in the company’s case includes construction, distribution and a variety of other services related to gas stations, plus a growing presence in the future of the automobile industry: electric power.
And the location is outside Covington’s inner core: The proposed new home for M&M Service is the sprawling one-story building at 315 East 15th Street in the Helentown neighborhood. Spreading jobs and development outside the downtown area into neighborhood business districts is one of the City’s strategic goals.
Sherrie Keller, vice president of M&M Service, said the company plans to keep about half of the space for its offices and warehouse, retain the four small businesses that currently operate there, and lease out the remaining space. She said company officials are excited about the move.
“The building and its location are just perfect for us, and we look forward to being part of the city of Covington,” Keller said.
On Tuesday, the Covington Board of Commissioners heard a proposal for a payroll tax incentive to help land the company, discussed it favorably, and added the proposal to its consent agenda for next Tuesday, Sept. 15.
“This is an exciting development because it demonstrates that our citywide strategy truly is citywide,” Covington Economic Development Director Tom West said. “Over the past few months, we have had projects announced in Roebling Point, MainStrasse Village, downtown, Latonia, and now the eastern neighborhood of Helentown. It shows that we aren’t the only people who believe there are investment opportunities throughout Covington.”
Keller said the family-owned company was started by her parents in 1989 “in an office off their bedroom” and now has locations in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana; clients around the world; and roving job crews that work around the country, including at military bases.
“We build gas stations from the ground up — actually, from underground up, when you consider the fuel tanks — and that includes the concrete, the dispensers, and the canopy and lights,” she said. “We also do things like clean tanks and test equipment, and recently we added a team of electricians who install electric vehicle charging stations.”
Keller said the company was outgrowing its current space in Silver Grove and was attracted by Covington’s energy and geographic location — close to its clients and several major interstates.
“We’re definitely in growth mode, both in number of employees and in the services we provide,” she said. “We have a lot going on.”
M&M Service hopes to complete the renovation and move in early 2021, she said. The new hires will include service technicians, construction laborers, electricians, and administrative staff.
West told the commission that the 10-year agreement includes five years of incentives and a five-year “retention period” with no incentives. The city projects to collect almost $770,000 in payroll tax revenue.
Ross Patten, Covington’s assistant economic development director, said the project both complements the city’s economic heritage and matches future goals related to diversification and office-related jobs, as spelled out in the citywide strategy approved last year.
“Covington has a proud manufacturing history, and approximately 11 percent of Covington’s workforce is employed in the manufacturing industry,” Patten said. “Attracting firms like M&M Service and growing our existing manufacturers leverages our workforce and the knowledge base already residing in The Cov.”
The announcement adds to a list of recent economic development projects in Covington since December 2019, including the arrival of corporate or Northern Kentucky headquarters for Hilltop Basic Resources, Rumpke Waste & Recycling, First Financial Bancorp., Gentis Solutions and STEP CG.
• The $7 million transformation of the long-vacant Latonia Plaza II shopping center from “big boxes” into a modern work space, led by computer firms ReGadget and Blair Technology Group.
• A $22.5 million plan to turn the former YMCA and Gateway Bookstore buildings at Pike and Madison into an addition to Hotel Covington, office space, and a “bourbon distillery experience.”
• The $4.9 million renovation of the largely vacant Republic Bank Building at 535 Madison into Class A office space with a rooftop bar.
• And the $11.3 million expansion of the historic Monarch Building on Fourth Street into the new home of DBL Law, Northern Kentucky’s largest law firm.