AYER -- The local honey processing equipment company Maxant Industries is moving its operations out of Ayer and into Devens.

The Devens Enterprise Commission approved Maxant's application for the construction of a building of about 28,600 square feet. The 3.2-acre lot at 58 Barnum Road will include parking and a small area for beehives in the back of the property, according to the DEC's unified permit record of decision. The company is now in a 30-day appeal period.

Maxant Industries, which has been in the building on 28 Harvard Road since 1974, manufactures equipment used for processing honey.

Theodore Maxant, chief engineering officer, said the company outgrew its current building, which is more of a warehouse rather than a place to manufacture products.

"It's a great storage building, it's a great warehouse building, but it's not good for manufacturing," he said.

The company will be adding employees and will be able to increase production with the new building, Maxant said.

"Here, the welding stations are scattered because of the way the electrical power grid is laid out on this building," he said. "In the new building, all the welding stations will be right in a line."

Maxant said the building will have a crane bay for unloading steel shipments, a feature that the current building does not have. He estimated that the company gets truck-delivery of about 250,000 pounds of steel each year.

"They'll be able to back into a crane bay and we'll be able to lift the material up and just drop it onto the floor and then bring it inside on the dollies," he said.

The DEC imposed conditions with approval, requiring trucks to go through Jackson Gate to get to the site. The company must encourage all of its other traffic to use the Jackson Gate as much as possible.

Maxant said the property the company is leaving behind is actually owned by a Maxant family trust. The family's real-estate broker will be looking for a tenant. Fitchburg Plumbing Supply Co. is a tenant on the property as well.

The parcel is in an industrial zone, Maxant said, providing a lot of opportunities for the future.

"Looking way to the future, probably the highest and best use will be retail, some kind of grocery store or a complex, gas station," he said. "Something like that."

The company is looking forward to the move, he said.

"I think MassDevelopment is very, very happy to have this," he said. "I don't think they have a great deal of manufacturing in what used to be Fort Devens. They have a tremendous amount of warehousing."

He said Maxant Industries has already chosen a few people for the construction job, and the company will take action as soon as its gets final approval.

"I think it's going to be an attractive building," he said. "I think it's going to fit nicely into the whole Barnum Road."

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