The article I wrote on Wednesday about P.A.T. Products moving its headquarters to New Hampshire created quite a stir.
The response from readers was overwhelming. As of Thursday afternoon there were nearly 400 comments on the story, with the usual mix of political jabs (I think every Maine governor and U.S. president going back to the 1960s was blamed for the current situation) and pessimism about Maine and its business climate.
Not surprisingly, politicians immediately latched onto the news. The Maine House Republicans sent out an email blast calling the news “a call to action to continue fighting for pro-growth reforms, not higher taxes, more welfare dependency, and more government bureaucracy.”
Then the company, perhaps surprised by the vitriolic responses of some readers, tried to backpedal. In a statement posted on its website, the company claims I misrepresented the situation, which is untrue.
Here’s a portion of the company’s statement — while it gushingly reiterates its commitment to Bangor, it ironically fails to admit it’s moving its corporate headquarters to New Hampshire:
“Today in the Bangor Daily News an article painted the opening of our new office in New Hampshire as a “move” to New Hampshire; or that we were “leaving” Maine. We opened our New Hampshire office to continue to grow our business.
“We have not left Maine. The Bangor office is open for business and will continue to be for the indefinite future. The opening of new offices is part of the growth of our business.”
At no point did I report that the company was wholesale moving to New Hampshire, or leaving Maine. I went out of my way to make sure that in each reference I made clear the company was moving its “headquarters” to New Hampshire. I also reported that no layoffs were planned in Bangor and that some manufacturing activities would remain in the Queen City.
I also reported exactly what Leo Coyle, the company’s CEO, told me on the phone Wednesday morning: Which is that P.A.T. Products is moving its corporate headquarters to New Hampshire to be closer to the company’s markets and because he finds that state’s tax structure more attractive than Maine’s.
The Union Leader in New Hampshire was able to shed a bit more light on the story when a reporter spoke with Leo Edward Coyle, the company’s executive vice president, and the CEO’s son.
Coyle the younger told the paper there were already two employees working in the Portsmouth office, and that two more would move down from Bangor by the end of the summer.
He also reiterated what his father told me, which is that the company moved its headquarters to make it easier to travel and because of New Hampshire’s tax structure.
“Corporate income tax rates are lower in New Hampshire than they are in Maine, personal income tax is lower, in that there is none,” Coyle the younger told the Union Leader. “Maine is a wonderful, wonderful place, but it is not a business-friendly state.”
So there you have it. The company is moving its corporate headquarters to Portsmouth, as I initially reported. Instead of trying to backpedal and rewrite the news, perhaps the company should stand by its original comments to the media that it’s moving its headquarters to New Hampshire for better geography and what they feel is a better business environment.