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Refrigeration firm heads to old plant

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Published:   |   Updated: August 7, 2013 at 10:47 AM

BROOKSVILLE - The old Coca-Cola sales and distribution facility east of town on State Road 50, vacant for four years, will soon be bubbling again with activity.

Joseph Matthews, owner-president and CEO of 5-Star Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, hopes to move his operation at the airport industrial park to the new site at 23091 Cortez Blvd. as early as November.

Founded by Matthews in 2007 with a handful of select customers, the company now employs 80 people and the current location is just too small.

The old Coke facility is more than twice the size with about 23,000 square feet.

Matthews said he will invest an initial $50,000 just to get the lights, security system and utilities installed. There will also be an interior renovation before the whole crew moves in, he said.

Matthews said his company fills a niche for commercial clients and he hasn't been as affected as some companies during the economic downturn.

"It's been challenging and competitive, for sure," he said.

But the company has adapted and grown to fit the needs of the market, he said. In fact, 5-Star was named one of the 50 finalists for fastest growing companies in the Tampa Bay area by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, he said.

Buddy Selph, a broker with Tommie Dawson Realty, said the expansion of 5-Star Refrigeration is indicative of the growing activity in the local economy.

Selph was also instrumental in negotiations with the Deltona Corporation's acquisition this month of Southern Pines Condominiums west of Brooksville.

When it was open, the Coca-Cola facility employed about 70 people, who were transferred to various other companies in the region as part of a company streamlining effort.

The Coke plant had been open about 25 years before it closed.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

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