March 5, 2014 Edition

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Clayton Keister (center), is president of Allegis, a multi-national company that announced Friday plans to open a distribution center at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport and Industrial Park. With him are Mark W. Swayne (left) of Smithville, who will serve as general manager of the local operation, and Dan Coker, chairman of the Airport Commission. TD Photo ~ John Bland

Allegis to open distribution
center at Walnut Ridge airport

John Bland

In an announcement ceremony held Friday morning at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport terminal building, it was learned that Allegis, a multi-national company, will be opening a distribution center at the airport. It will be located at 11 Skywatch in the building formerly occupied by Universal Assets Management.

Some five to six people, including Mark W. Swayne of Smithville, general manager, will initially be employed locally by the corporation, set to begin operations as early as this spring. Allegis Corporation is a leading supplier of latches, handles, hinges and related items. Other part-time positions may also be available.

The company's headquarters is in Minneapolis, with nine locations in the United States, and one in Mexico, Canada, Germany and China, according to Scott Holum, executive vice president of sales and operations. The company has some 90 employees total.

While the initial plans call for locating a central hub warehousing and distribution facility here, a second phase calls for some light manufacturing or modification of materials to be done locally.

Allegis has been in business nearly 50 years but has recently experienced major growth, Holum added.

"We're extremely excited to be locating our distribution facility here in Northeast Arkansas," said Clayton Keister, president of Allegis.

"I've always been impressed with the work ethic and generosity of the people here," Keister said, who has been visiting this area for over a decade and enjoyed duck hunting here. "Our experience here has been absolutely wonderful," he added.

"The folks here appreciate you being here," Keister said. "We look at this as a beginning; we take care of our people and we're a long-term operation." L.J. Bryant, economic development director of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, and Walnut Ridge Mayor Don House, both praised the cooperative efforts of several groups and individuals that helped bring Allegis to the area.

Among those mentioned were the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Northeast Arkansas Intermodal Authority, Lawrence County government, Walnut Ridge City Council, Walnut Ridge Airport Commission and Michelle Anthony, airport manager, and the Chamber of Commerce.

"This is the culmination of a great project," said State Sen. Robert Thompson of Paragould, who was present for the announcement.

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