Council asked to change street name to ‘Aavid Drive’

LACONIA — A request by Aavid Thermalloy, LLC to change the name of Primrose Drive South to Aavid Drive set the firm at odds with their corporate neighbors at the O'Shea Industrial Park and led to disagreement among the city councilors last night.

Ultimately the council encouraged the firms to address the issues dividing them and return to the council once an arrangement was reached.

Norm Soucy, general manager at Aavid, reminded the council that earlier this year the company returned its headquarters from Concord to Laconia, where it began almost 50 years ago, bringing 50 jobs to the city and investing $500,000 in its facility. Acknowledging that changing the name of the street would impose costs on neighboring firms, he said that Aavid would reimburse them for all out-of-pocket costs and offered to provide them with any administrative assistance they might need.

But, Michael DeAngelis of Amatex Corporation, a designer and manufacturer of fiberglass textiles headquartered in Norristown, Pennsylvania, said "we see no reason for the name change," adding "it will cause us a great deal of stress." He said that the company has operated in Laconia since 1982. "We like Primrose Drive. We like south and we like north." With business brisk and plans to expand in the spring, he said affecting the change of address would be a costly distraction.

Jeremy Baron of Baron Machine Company, Inc. called the prospect "a pain in the butt that doesn't benefit anyone." He applauded Aavid for returning to the city, but repeated there was no need to change the name of the street.

Robert Maher who owns 72 Primrose Drive, which he rents to three tenants, including Amatex, expressed reservations on behalf of his tenants

Councilor Matt Lahey (Ward 2) asked Soucy if there were a business reason for the request. Soucy replied that it would enable Aavid and the city to promote advanced manufacturing throughout the world and described it as "an enhancement to the city of Laconia."

"What about the industries that have been here 40 years?" DeAngelis asked.

Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3) endorsed the name change, which he said represented an opportunity to "rebrand" the city and "leverage" the success of Aavid to "go beyond ourselves to get to another place." At the same time, he stressed that the timing of the process and the reimbursement of the costs should be arranged to the satisfaction of the neighboring companies. Seconded by Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4), Lipman moved to approve the change.

Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) urged that a vote be deferred. He questioned the benefits of changing a street name and expressed concern that one company would be given preference over others.

Lahey said he too was "uncomfortable" and and asked "are we only talking dollars?"

Both DeAngelis and Baron conceded that apart from the costs the name change would not otherwise disadvantage their businesses. Soucy reaffirmed his commitment to reimburse costs. "Our goal is not to have this cost our neighbors money," he said.

Seeking reassurance Lahey remarked "I don't want to wake up some morning to find out that 25 jobs moved to Pennsylvania because somebody got mad."

Lipman repeated that by supporting a business with the potential to attract other businesses the name change would create "synergy," noting that "everybody benefits if we raise all boats."