PORT MANATEE -- Air Products and Chemicals Inc., which is building a new manufacturing plant in Manatee County, picked its site because Port Manatee offered a "well-run and well-maintained port," a company official said Thursday.
Alexander W. "Sandy" McLauchlin, a company general manager, said Air Products officials had visited more than 24 potential sites at seven locations before selecting one across U.S. 41 from Port Manatee.
The site it selected, where it is now building its new facility, was "an ideal location for us," McLauchlin told the port authority board, which is made up of Manatee County commissioners.
"The port made the difference," he said.
The size of equipment the company builds prevents it from easily shipping from its Wilkes-Barre, Pa., plant to the nearest port, he said.
"We decided we'd undertake a search for suitable sites we could develop quickly -- we needed unrestricted access to a port," he said.
The company, based in Allentown, Pa., ships its highly technical products to customers all over the world, McLauchlin said.
Air Products' LNG technology takes natural gas and liquefies it, making it possible to economically ship around the world, according to the company's website. The huge exchangers are a half of a football field in length and can weigh as much as 500 tons.
The company also makes many other products, boasting $10 billion in sales, McLauchlin said. It operates in more than 50 countries, and employs more than 20,000 employees around the world.
Air Products purchased the property for nearly $6 million in July 2012 from HRK Holdings, a former phosphate facility designed to house material from Port Manatee's Berth 12 dredging project.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.