APA OKs distributing company expansion

RAY BROOK – The state Adirondack Park Agency has approved a local beverage distribution company’s expansion plan.

High Peaks Distributing, which delivers beer, wine, spirits, soft drinks and other products to businesses in three North Country counties, plans to construct a 13,000-square-foot addition to its existing 20,000-square-foot facility off of state Route 3 in the town of St. Armand. The project also involves replacement of the existing septic system on the property.

The company, which is a subsidiary of McCraith Beverages, was required to get an APA permit for the project because it’s a greater than 25 percent expansion of a commercial use structure within a quarter mile of the Saranac River, a state-designated recreational river.

Company President Tom McCraith told the Enterprise that the expansion is needed because of an influx of new products to distribute in the three counties High Peaks covers: Clinton, Essex and Franklin.

“An example of that might be Snapple brand,” he said. “We got the distribution rights for that about a year ago. Along with the distribution rights comes about 70 different items. As you add those items to your inventory, obviously you have to have more room on the floor. And we’ve gotten into wine and spirits also. It basically gives us an opportunity to sell more product because we’re able to bring in more product.”

The 13,000-square-foot addition includes 10,000-square-feet of warehouse space, plus a new loading area where tractor-trailers and delivery trucks can be loaded and unloaded inside, McCraith said.

High Peaks Distributing currently employs 19 people. Once the expansion is complete, McCraith said the company plans to add up to five full-time positions, like drivers, warehouse workers and sales staff.

“We feel that (five) is actually a conservative number as to what it could be,” McCraith said.

APA officials raised no major concerns with the project when it was brought before the agency’s Regulatory Programs Committee on Thursday.

Executive Director Terry Martino said the number of jobs the project will create is significant. She said she drives by the site twice a day and said it’s very hard to see the existing warehouse.

“You have to look hard when you’re going by at 55 miles per hour (to see the building),” she said. “I think the screening along the road is really substantial in terms of what’s happening with the expansion.”

“I want to commend you all on your expansion,” said Commissioner Karen Feldman. “Any time we can increase economic development in a positive way like this and create additional jobs, that’s always a good thing.”

Although the project seems pretty straightforward, McCraith said it took about a year to make it happen, in part because of the APA permitting requirements. If the business was located outside the Park, it would have been done sooner, he said. However, McCraith praised the agency staff who worked on the project.

“I know there’s sometimes a lot of pushback on the APA, but they’re doing what they need to do, and we respect and appreciate that,” he said. “It shows they can work through things, and they will work with you.”

Construction of the addition is expected to begin by mid-July.

High Peaks Distributing Inc. was previously known as Don Scammell Inc. McCraith Beverages bought the company in 2011.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.