Ford Motor Co. taking over old Masco Headquarters, vacant Kmart location

Ford logoTAYLOR — The city risked losing one of its largest taxpayers when Masco began downsizing and relocating its headquarters to Livonia, but it turned out there was a better idea available right around the corner.

Ford Motor Co. has agreed to take over not only the massive former Masco headquarters building at 21001 Van Born Road, but will also occupy the vacant former Kmart property right next door at 21111 Van Born. Masco owned both sites.

The Kmart closed in 2016 as part of a nationwide shutdown of locations by Sears, its parent company. It was Downriver’s last remaining Kmart.

“We’ve worked with Masco for the past couple of years,” Mayor Rick Sollars said. “They never wanted to leave the city of Taylor in a lurch, and they had four options: sell, lease, donate the site to an educational institution or demolish the entire property and create a park, etc.

“We’re happy with this arrangement. Naturally, you want to land on your feet in these types of situations. This is a win-win-win – in fact, anytime you land Ford, it’s a big win. But Masco, the city and, of course, Ford all are winners in this situation.”

Many people – even those who have lived in Taylor all of their lives – don’t truly understand the size and importance of the Masco property. Its headquarters building is some 415,000 square feet alone, located well off Van Born, toward I-94. The Kmart property, once a Super K, is another 170,000 square feet. As a comparison, while downsizing, Masco built a new headquarters in Livonia at less than one-quarter of the size of its Taylor headquarters.

The Ford takeover of the site offers many opportunities. Sollars said Ford plans to have more staffers onsite than Masco ever had.

Plenty of work to be done

Taylor must rezone of the property. Leaders from Taylor and Dearborn Heights already are in conversations on ways to upgrade the Van Born Road corridor, which needs various improvements. The fact that Ford staffers will be relocating there will create opportunities for spinoff businesses, like restaurants.

“We’ve been speaking with Dearborn Heights, and they may be as excited as anyone about this,” Sollars said. “Van Born needs improvements. It has for a while. We could be looking at some type of phrased-in improvements over a three-year period.”

Taylor has been undergoing massive business improvements elsewhere in the city. Eureka Road is one of the state’s most popular business development corridors, and the new Menards’ development near I-75 will break ground this spring.

Along Telegraph Road, Taylor Ford merged its properties into an $8 million expansion. DriveTime, an upscale used vehicle dealer, will be taking over the old Whitfield Family property on Telegraph north of Goddard, and plans $600,000 worth of improvements.

The Pardee-Wick corner has seen upgrades by Walgreens and the Parwick Pharmacy group. Wayne County Community College District’s Downriver campus on Northland Road plans a $14 million horticultural center.

Van Born, however, has seen little redevelopment, which makes the Ford move so important. Recently, the only major changes have been an investment by Midway Sports and Entertainment, near Monroe, and the Quest Academy charter school west of Telegraph.

“We’re excited,” Sollars said. “Ford has never had real estate in Taylor. This should be a great opportunity for everyone.”

While the Masco Foundation will remain a recognizable partner in Taylor — and the company’s research and development center located on Trolley Industrial Drive will remain — the closing and relocation of its headquarters marks the end of an era in this city.

First organized in 1929 as Masco Screw Products Co. by Alex Manoogian, Masco went public on the Detroit Stock Exchange in 1936 – the middle of the Great Depression. An automotive machined parts provider, Masco’s first contract (1930) was with the Hudson Motor Co. (valued at $7,000).

In 1935, the company’s sales reached the $100,000 mark and the following year, Masco became a publicly traded company on the Detroit Stock Exchange. By 1942, Masco’s sales exceeded $1 million.

Masco Screw Products grew into Masco Corp, a large holding company for numerous acquisitions. Small, family-run businesses were bought out by Masco Corp. Between 1997 and 2002, Richard Manoogian, who succeeded his father as chief executive, acquired 42 companies valued at a combined $10 billion.

Masco Screw Products Co. officially changed its name to Masco Corp. in 1961 and moved to its corporate headquarters in Taylor in 1967. For the first time, in 1969, Masco was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1975, Masco first appeared on the Fortune 500, and Masco’s annual sales exceeded $1 billion for the first time in 1984.

One year later, Masco began manufacturing cabinets.

(Story provided by the city of Taylor’s Citywide News.)