Former Flexsteel property taken over by Way Services | Local company
The former Flexsteel furniture factory in East Lampeter Township has been sold to a growing Lancaster County logistics company, Way Services Inc., for $5.3 million, more than double what an outside investor bought it in 2020.
Pitney Road Industrial LLC, a New York-based front company, purchased the property from Flexsteel for $2 million in December 2020. Flexsteel permanently closed the distribution center in April 2020 as pandemic shutdowns continued for businesses non-essential, according to a report to investors. The Dubuque, Iowa-based company ceased production of upholstered residential furniture, such as sofas, loveseats and chairs, in November 2008 after 53 years of furniture production.
Shawn Barto, owner of Way Services Inc., said he was able to grab the 14-acre parcel with a 214,000-square-foot building because he had been renting the warehouse for about a year. Barto said he wrote in the lease that he would have an option to buy the property.
Barto said the property was important to him if he wanted to make the necessary upgrades for his growing delivery-warehouse-logistics business.
Way was headquartered at 1301 Harrisburg Pike in Manheim Township. This property was sold to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Authority in 2012 before Barto purchased the business from founder John Way in 2015. Way leased to the LCSWA, then leased a small piece of land at Dillerville Road in Manheim Township and a warehouse in Atglen.
“We’ve been looking for years,” Barto said. “Industrial land is hard to find.”
Dan Berger of US Commercial Realty said it made sense that, given the upgrades for the expansion, Barto wanted to own the property rather than rent it.
“The market is extremely tight right now,” said Berger, who along with his son Dan Berger Jr. facilitated the transaction. “It really takes the cooperation of the owner and the potential buyer to structure a deal.”
Berger said the price of property is indicative of the strength of the industrial market right now.
“Warehouse property values increase by 30 to 40 to 50 percent in a relatively short period of time,” Berger said.
The Shepherds worked with Barto to find tenants for the former Flexsteel site where Way also provides third-party logistics and material handling services.
Way has consolidated its operations at the Flexsteel site, added 16 new dock doors and made improvements to the warehouse office and lighting, Barto said during a recent walk through the building.
There is still work to do to adapt to his growing logistics and warehouse business. He did not have the opportunity to remove the Flexsteel panel from the facade of the building.
Way grew from a courier service for Amish families with three box trucks, six vans and 14 cars in 2015 to a warehouse logistics operation with six cars, 14 vans, 17 box trucks, 14 tractors and 35 trailers, Barto said. It has a truck repair center that is certified to do inspections. Way has approximately 65 employees.
While Way still serves the Amish, it has grown. Walking through the warehouse, Barto showed the variety of customers served by the operation. Way handles a variety of jobs for customers, from stocking for Franklin & Marshall College students to picking and packing for Cooper Booth Wholesale in Mountville, Barto said. Heavy bags on plastic wrapped pallets belonged to Rohrer Seed. There are items with boxes marked Sykd, a crossbow manufacturer that Barto is co-owner. Bart is aalso co-owner of the Bowhunter Superstore in York.
Bart said he spent about $1 million to refurbish the warehouse through a private investor and he would like to secure financing of about $2.5 million more.
He just bought another trucking company, D&S Express in Longswamp Township, Berks County.