HANCOCK COUNTY — An Indianapolis-based online retailer is ready to relocate to Hancock County and bring dozens of new jobs to the area — provided county officials are willing to approve a tax break.
Brybelly Holdings, an 11-year-old company that sells a variety of novelty items, from playing cards to poker chips, is considering a 26-acre property near County Roads 200N and 700W as the site of a 200,000-square-foot warehouse that would house products and serve as the company’s headquarters.
If the deal goes through, the company would bring 35 existing employees from its Indianapolis workplaces. But Jeff Smith, principal shareholder of the company, projects the company will add half a dozen new jobs annually for the next five years. The average salary is $42,000, not including benefits, Smith said.
To motivate representatives to relocate the company to the area, the Hancock County Council recently gave preliminary approval for a tax break worth as much as $1 million over a 10-year period. During that period of time, the company would still pay approximately $1.2 million in property taxes.
The council will make a final decision on the tax break after a public hearing at its next meeting, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 10 at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, 111 American Legion Place.
County officials said the addition would help diversify the local workforce, much of which currently revolves around auto manufacturing.
“Having that variety helps ensure that we’ll keep going when the market has fluctuations,” said Kent Fisk, a member of the county council.
Smith said the site appeals to him because it has enough space to allow for a simple consolidation of the company’s three current facilities, which measure between 18,000 and 55,000 square feet.
The 200,000-square-foot building would cost about $9 million to construct, said Skip Kuker, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council.
If the company locates to the area, Smith anticipates doubling the facility’s size — to 400,000 square feet — within five years.
The space would be used to store, ship and receive products. The company’s management team would also operate out of the office.
Smith said the company has seen sales grow an average of 20 percent annually over the last decade. Since 2013, sales have swelled from $12 million to $18 million in 2015, Smith said.
Seventy-five percent of the company’s sales come from individual consumers who use Amazon Marketplace, Smith said. The remainder of sales come from wholesale customers and businesses, he added.
Its most popular products include game dice, fake mustaches and poker cards, Smith said.
After an eight-year career as an accountant, Smith co-founded the company with Knute Lentz, who also worked in accounting.
County council president Bill Bolander said he’s impressed with the founders’ entrepreneurial spirit.
“It’s exciting to see a couple guys starting a company like that and succeeding by differentiating themselves from others,” Bolander said. “I hope we land it.”
He said the tax break would still be a financial gain for the county. Without offering it, the company would likely accept an offer from a different community, and the county wouldn’t generate any significant tax dollars from the empty land, he said.
If the council gives final approval on the tax break, Smith said he hopes to break ground on the site in March and anticipates the facility would open in September.