Nearly a year after a Maryland-based real estate investment company bought The Riverside Business Center, a light industrial property in Whitehall Township for $11.65 million, the company has acquired its last tenant.
Summit Apparel Inc., a manufacturer doing business as Royal Apparel, has taken up space in the center.
The new space is efficient, with sufficient room for his company’s needs, said Abe Mayeri, Summit’s vice president.
The company makes t-shirts and sweatshirts for a variety of clients, including concert tees for Live Nation.
Summit Apparel is no stranger to the valley, having started in a facility in east Allentown in 2002, according to Mayeri. It has annual revenue of about $20 million, and began in a 65,000-square-foot-warehouse owned by the Allentown Economic Development Corp. on South 10th Street in Allentown, Mayeri said.
It stayed in that spot until 2010, and then moved to a smaller space of about 12,000 square feet on South 12th Street in the city. At that time, it took most of its operations back to its headquarters in Hauppauge, New York, he said. But the company’s warehousing operations remained at the South 12th Street location until signing the lease for the Riverside Business Center.
Mayeri wanted a space where he could have enough room to expand manufacturing. He has about 12 employees there now. The company cuts fabric for t-shirts and sweatshirts, and stores and distributes products to clients nationally, he added.
In its new space, the company has nearly 600 feet of tables for cutting fabric. Though the company uses manual labor to perform this function, Mayeri said he is looking to automate this process through a vendor, Gerber Technology.
He is also looking to hire more employees, despite moving to automation and facing challenges from e-commerce retailers such as Amazon scooping up local employees in the logistics and warehousing fields.
“It’s been a challenge because of the influx of Amazon,” Mayeri. “I’m sure we have faith we can find people. Manufacturing, the trade, is kind of dying, that’s why I’m going to automation.”
He said he still needs employees to feed the materials to the machines.
“It’s going to make a lot of things efficient, but you still need people to spread the fabric,” Mayeri said. “If it takes an hour to cut by hand, it could take 20 minutes by machine, maybe even less.”
In March 2018, an affiliate of 1788 Holdings LLC bought the 423,900-square-foot building at 1139 Lehigh Ave. and since that time made some upgrades and renovations.