Updated: 8:20 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 | Posted: 10:33 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012

Robbins & Myers move a surprise

By Thomas Gnau

Staff Writer

DAYTON — The departure of yet another corporate headquarters from the Dayton area caught local business and civic leaders by surprise Tuesday.

Peter Wallace, chief executive of Robbins & Myers Inc., confirmed that the company has moved its small corporate headquarters from The Greene in Beavercreek to Willis, Texas, about 50 miles north of Houston.

The company’s acquisition of T-3 Energy Service Inc. last January, coupled with the company’s strong customer and supplier bases in Texas, prompted the move, Wallace said.

Robbins & Myers, which makes equipment used by energy, chemical, industrial and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, moved its headquarters to The Greene from the Kettering Tower in downtown Dayton in 2007.

Robbins & Myers joins the list of publicly traded companies that got their start in the Dayton area, but are no longer based here.

Among the homegrown companies whose headquarters have disappeared in recent years are NCR, Mead, Elder-Beerman Stores and Moto-Photo.

The company made the move without a public announcement or discussions with local economic development officials, Wallace said.

Plans for the move were mentioned in documents the company filed in August with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“I just didn’t think there was a need to bring a lot of attention and visibility (to this),” Wallace said, adding that 16 employees work at the headquarters. The company has about 3,300 total employees.

David Kell, director of the Greene County Department of Development, said news of the move Tuesday “caused a bit of surprise.”

Phil Parker, president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the move is a loss, even if the size of the headquarters staff is small. Corporate leaders bring with them prestige, resources and fellow employees, he said.

“We really hate losing that type of brain trust,” Parker said.

Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition, said job growth is coming from companies that are not based here.

He pointed to Caterpillar Inc., General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and other firms, all based outside Dayton, that have “significant” employment in the Dayton region.

Wallace said Robbins & Myers will always have some kind of Dayton-area presence, and he said there are no plans to move its Chemineer and Moyno locations from Dayton and Springfield, respectively. Moyno has about 240 employees, while Chemineer has about 140 workers.

Wallace also said a new company division, the Process and Flow Control Group, will be based in Dayton, with Aaron Ravenscroft as the group’s leader.

That division includes Chemineer and Moyno and focuses on producing mixers, blenders and storage devices for chemical, polymer, biofuels, water, wastewater and other processes.

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