MERIDEN — Jonal Labs is expanding its operating space with the purchase of a former manufacturing building at 200 Research Parkway for $1.1 million
The building is the home of Midstate ARC Inc. which currently uses half the space for its services for developmentally disabled clients.
“We are so excited about this,” said Midstate ARC executive director Pam Fields in an email. “It came at the perfect time when the Center for Medicaid and Medicare services (our national funder) is looking for agencies such as ours to become community integrated.
“They put out a final rule which expected compliance by March 17 2022,” Fields said. “This would require us to downsize and we were worried about what we would do with the building as we did. So this was great timing for us.”
The Research Parkway purchase is one of three locations owned by Jonal Labs. The rubber seal manufacturing company, whose client list includes Pratt & Whitney, leases 10,000 square feet at 290 Pratt St. and maintains its headquarters on Center Street.
Despite a slowdown in commercial aviation work during the pandemic, the aerospace parts supplier saw an increase in government military contracts and work from other industries in need of its vulcanized rubber products, said Jonal Labs President Marc Nemeth.
Jonal makes flame resistant seals — the O-rings on the International Space Station — and other products at its Center Street shop. The company saw tremendous growth from 2015 to 2019.
A venture into after-market airplane framing parts allowed Jonal to expand stamping operations into an additional 290 Pratt St. shop. Now, the company is looking at the military vehicle segment for further expansion.
“There are a lot of balls in the air,” Nemeth said. “This is a long term play for us. We might not be in here for two to 10 years. But if we can’t demonstrate we have the capacity, we might as well forget about it.”‘Phenomenal building’
The purchase allows Midstate ARC to take as long as it needs to transition its services, while Jonal fits about 11,000 square feet to suit its needs. Midstate ARC currently has a two-year lease for half the building. The downsizing allows Midstate ARC to concentrate on getting more clients out in the community to work or volunteer, or attend programs.
“This is a phenomenal building for a manufacturer, Nemeth said. “Talcott ran it for a number of years then they sold it.”
Nemeth and Fields, who serve on several community boards, discussed the property and Nemeth expressed interest several years ago. When Fields learned of the funding change and the need to downsize, she turned to Nemeth.
In 1979, Talcott Machine built the facility and ran it for a number of years before selling it. It has high ceilings and concrete floors, in addition to large meeting rooms and offices.
The Midstate ARC had client services rooms, a playroom, a client-operated kitchen and cafe as well as a hydroponic vegetable garden on the enclosed porch over the years.
The state’s manufacturing industry has survived the pandemic downtown and recovered 60 percent of lost manufacturing jobs, according to state data.
The return to manufacturing also puts the property back on the tax rolls.
“You have a manufacturing building converted to social services without paying taxes,” Nemeth said. “This is made to be a manufacturing building, although Pam did a nice job. We don’t want to go to a customer and say we’ll do the job for them without having the capacity. We have chemistry, design and manufacturing capacity. We have reps in Korea and Europe and those are starting to pick up the pace. There are things happening here.”