MANATEE -- A Croatian businessman known for a nearly successful run for the presidency of his home nation has purchased a Parkland Center industrial building and is bringing part of his Minnesota-based chemical manufacturing business to Manatee County.
Boris Miksic, the chairman, president and CEO of anti-corrosion product manufacturer Cortec Corporation, purchased a 32,553-square foot building at 2420 Trailmate Drive for $1.4 million on May 15. The seller was 2420 Trailmate LLC, a company managed by Palmetto real estate investor Peter VanDerNoord.
Miksic said he plans to make the building a future site of a Cortec biotechnology campus. The campus will employ at least 50 people after it opens this August. Currently, more than 200 people work for Cortec in the United States and Croatia.
A U.S. resident since fleeing Yugoslavia in the early 1970s, Miksic has worked in the chemical engineering field for most of his career. According to his website, borismiksic.net, he settled in Minnesota and founded his own technology company, Cortec.
He sold that company to Sealed Air Corporation in 1984, but got it back in a leveraged buyout in 1988.
"Four years later, I had the sense to buy it back," Miksic said.
Cortec's annual revenues exceed $100 million, he said.
Cortec Corporation manufactures and sells a line of corrosion inhibitors and other chemicals used in industries, including packaging, metal working and construction. Miksic said the Manatee County Cortec campus
will house an office, a manufacturing facility, a warehouse and two laboratories for biotechnology and marine corrosion research. A sales office at the facility will serve the southeastern U.S., the Caribbean and South America.
Products to be manufactured at the plant will be Cortec's anti-corrosion coatings, and bioremediation and cleaning products. Part of the warehouse will store and ship products that can be damaged by freezing weather and cannot be shipped out of the firm's Minnesota or Wisconsin plants during the winter months.
Last winter, the company was unable to truck its products out of those northern plants for weeks at a time because they would have frozen in transit.
"It was a major disruption of our business," Miksic said.
The Minnesota cold prompted him to buy the Trailmate Drive property. Miksic said he plans to bring future Cortec expansions to the Bradenton-Sarasota area. Having the international shipping capabilities of Port Manatee nearby was another inducement to bring part of his business south of the snow line.
With the new building, Cortec will have approximately 400,000 square feet. The company's corporate technical center is located in St. Paul, Minn. Cortec operates production plants in Montreal, Canada, Beli Mansastir, Croatia, Cambridge, Minn., Eau Clair, Wis. and Spooner, Wis.
Miksic's professional life has occasionally strayed from his role as a business owner and chemical engineer. The full-time resident of Longboat Key ran for the presidency of Croatia in 2005. He placed third in the election.
VanDerNoord exits market
Notable on the other side of the transaction is the fact that the Trailmate building was one of the last industrial properties the VanDerNoord family owned.
Peter VanDerNoord said his family began selling off its industrial assets about 12 months ago after the death of his father, Harry. The family's roots in the real estate business go back to 1926, when the VanDerNoords emigrated from Holland to Chicago, Ill.
VanDerNoord said the business' future focus will be on operating the 350-slip Regatta Point Marina in Palmetto and the Riverhouse Reef and Grill restaurant. His family owns both properties.
Two hundred thousand square feet of VanDerNoord properties sold in February, and the family has divested itself of most of its industrial holdings in Illinois and Indiana. Peak industrial holdings for the family were about 400,000 square feet. VanDerNoord still owns a 10,000-square-foot industrial building locally that he said he is inclined to keep.
VanDerNoord said the privately brokered sale of the Trailmate building gives his former property new life in the hands of a growing company.
"It's great for Manatee County to see another user coming here," he said.
The Trailmate building has been home to a few manufacturers in recent years. Veethree Instruments, a manufacturer of marine and industrial instruments, operated in the building before moving to a larger building on 47th Terrace East in Bradenton. Mustang Vacuum Systems was the building's most recent occupant. The manufacturer of industrial scale vacuum deposition equipment has since moved to 7135 16th St. E. in south Manatee County.
Cortec has received no business incentive funds from Manatee County. Cheri Coryea, director of the county's neighborhood services department, said she has yet to work with the company.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.