Political figures, company leaders and employees were on hand Monday morning for the dedication of Evonik Degussa Corporation's new North American administrative headquarters at 299 Jefferson Road. More than the mere opening of a new building, the spirited ceremony was a celebration of doing business in New Jersey and in Parsippany.
The specialty chemical company, a branch of Germany-based Evonik Industries AG, had given serious consideration to taking its business out of the Garden State, said President Tom Bates.
Before the company's lease was ready to expire, Evonik created an in-house task force to explore all possibilities as to where its administrative center should go, according to Bates. Since Evonik Degussa's largest manfuacturing site is in Mobile, Ala., and costs in the south are often lower than in the northeast, the possibility of heading southward had to be on the table.
But the company opted to remain in New Jersey. Bates said the choice was made for a variety of reasons, including "favorable economics," a high-quality, well-educated workforce and Parsippany's transportation and communications links.
"Evonik has called New Jersey home for many years and we plan to continue growing our business [here]," Bates said. "Thanks to Gov. Christie and his administration—and the hard work and dedication of Congressman [Rodney] Frelinghuysen—we can do so. New Jersey is becoming more business-friendly, which is good for all corporations here, those planning to relocate to the Garden State and all residents.
"Evonik and New Jersey will continue to be partners in prosperity for years to come."
U.S. Rep. Frelinghuysen announced that while he liked the concept of being "partners in prosperity," he had another idea for a slogan: "Evonik and New Jersey, perfect together."
Evonik Industries AG board member Patrik Wohlhauser agreed that the relationship seems destined. He noted that the state flower is the purple violet and that the royal hue is also a corporate color.
"What you probably don't know is centuries ago, the settlers here used the flower not only for food, but as a base for perfumes," Wohlhauser shared. "So you see, Parsippany was home to a chemical industry even back in the 1700s and 1800s!"
Wohlhauser was a special guest for the dedication ceremony along with U.S. Rep. Frelinghuysen, Mayor James Barberio and state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio.
While the official opening took place Monday, the company moved its administrative staff of about 400 from Evonik's site at 379 Interpace Pkwy. about six months ago. The company signed a long-term lease with Vision Equities for the approximately 150,000 square-foot three-story facility.
The Jefferson Road building was renovated extensively in keeping with Evonik's stated commitment to the environment. The site is equipped with a new energy-efficient heating and ventilation system in order to reduce the company's carbon footprint.
Sen. Pennacchio said the calls he usually gets are about companies moving out of New Jersey.
"This time, they called to say they were staying," he told Patch. "This is good news."
Mayor Barberio said that what's good is that Evonik recognized the positive attributes of Parsippany.
"I was very happy that they pointed out our great workforce and accessibility," he said. "But they also mentioned our golf courses and parks. They get it. Parsippany is great for business, and it's also great for families."
Barberio said the best part of the ceremony was looking into the crowd of Evonik employees and seeing the faces of many Parsippany residents he recognized.
The mayor pledged to continue his stated efforts—among them, meeting with representatives of the Morris County Economic Deveopment Corporation—to attract and retain businesses in the township and to boost rateables.
"This is what it's all about," he said.