Manufacturer moving jobs to city, Delco

Posted: October 04, 2013

Success breeds success.

As evidence: the announcement Wednesday that Axalta Coating Systems, a maker of high-performance paints and coatings, is moving its global headquarters to Philadelphia and its North American headquarters to Concord, Delaware County. Both have been in Wilmington.

The moves stem in part from relationships built last year when Axalta's owner, the Carlyle Group, stepped in to take over Sunoco's Philadelphia oil refinery, according to the Nutter administration.

Carlyle's positive experience with the refinery deal - and some not-insignificant financial incentives - mean Philadelphia has 100-plus new jobs, while Delaware County will see in excess of 200.

"The Carlyle Group walked away with a very good feeling about where the city is going," Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development, said, referring to the refinery deal. "That very good feeling about the city steered this international headquarters here."

Axalta's global headquarters was relocated Monday to three floors of Two Commerce Square in Center City.

On Nov. 1, Axalta will move its North American headquarters to a 55,000-square-foot facility in Concord.

"Today, we celebrate 332 new jobs coming to Philadelphia and Delaware County," Gov. Corbett said in a statement. "It's a sign we are heading in the right direction and Pennsylvania's economy is on the rise."

The state, through the Department of Community and Economic Development, provided a $1.3 million Pennsylvania First Program grant to Axalta, as well as $996,000 in job-creation tax credits to assist with the company's move.

Philadelphia was kicking in an additional $885,000, plus job-creation tax credits worth $5,000 per position and a two-year break on the business tax that is available to any company bringing at least three new jobs to the city.

Greenberger said Philadelphia should recoup the $885,000 within two years from wage taxes collected from Axalta's executive ranks at Two Commerce Center.

Axalta makes paints, coatings, and sealants for use on a variety of surfaces and objects, including automobiles, trains, houses, industrial plants, and household appliances.

It was formerly owned by the DuPont Co. under the name DuPont Performance Coatings. The company was bought by Carlyle, a capital-investment firm, in February for $4.9 billion.

Axalta has more than 12,000 employees worldwide and reported $4.3 billion in revenue in 2012.

Carlyle is running the former Sunoco Philadelphia refinery as a new entity, Philadelphia Energy Solutions. When Carlyle began looking for a new home for Axalta, Philip L. Rinaldi, chief executive of Philadelphia Energy Solutions, reached out to the city, according to Luke Butler, Greenberger's chief of staff.

From there, discussions took off, and a deal was struck within a month, Greenberger said.

As always, someone's gain is another's loss - in this case, Delaware's.

Alan Levin, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office, was philosophical about it.

"Any job that we lose to anywhere is a loss to Delaware, but in this case I think the management of Axalta . . . made it clear from the beginning that they wanted to get a clean start for the company," Levin said. "I'm happy to say that R&D and production will remain in Delaware."


Inquirer staff writer Joseph N. DiStefano contributed to this article.

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