Maybe the grass isn't so green on the other side after all.
Four years after moving its corporate headquarters from Maryland to Virginia with an over-the-shoulder blast at Maryland's "adversarial" attitude toward business, Fairchild Industries Inc. says it is interested in moving its home base back across the Potomac because Virginia has gotten too expensive.
Fairchild Chairman Emanuel Fthenakis said yesterday that the company, which has gone through a major restructuring in recent years, has looked at sites in both Virginia and Maryland for its corporate headquarters, but that it prefers Maryland, the home of many of its manufacturing facilities.
Fairchild treated Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer and a bevy of other state and county officials to lunch yesterday at its Germantown facility, as well as a tour and a presentation on the company. In an interview afterward, Fthenakis said, "It would make sense to have it here and it would be nice if the economics work out. ... We've looked in Virginia, too, but it's substantially more expensive."
He said, however, that the company has not made up its mind.
Fthenakis said the reason for the governor's visit was to show him how desperately the company needs to expand existing facilities at Germantown, where it has two aerospace divisions and more than 1,400 employes. The company wants to double revenue from the divisions in two years, and hopes to double employment in Germantown by the end of 1988. "It's high-tech growth, and that's what we want to show the governor," Fthenakis said.
Maryland officials said they made the visit as part of their effort to lure Fairchild's headquarters and its 60 employes back from Dulles International Airport. "I would say you don't get the order unless you ask for it," said Dyan Lingle, director of Maryland's department of economic and employment development.
Schaefer said he would like to see Fairchild move back to Maryland, but added that he would leave it to Kramer to do most of the wooing.
"You don't pressure a great man like Fthenakis," Schaefer said. "If there was anything possible we'll do it, but the pressure will be from Sid."
Virginia officials said they are aware that Fairchild is homesick, but added that there appears to be little they can do about it.
"We offered to try to do ... whatever we could do to make them comfortable in Virginia, but we were told it was a situation where they would have greater efficiency and consolidate where their profitable activities were," said Bob DeMauri, director of marketing for the Virginia Department of Economic Development.
"Evidently it's not economical for them, and they have to make hard business decisions," said Fairfax County Executive J. Hamilton Lambert. "We wouldn't want to stand in their way."
Fairchild, which uses only one of four floors in its headquarters building, has had trouble subleasing the rest of the space, sources said. Fthenakis said the company is looking for a buyer for the building, which sources said cost Fairchild at least $10 million to build.
Kramer said he has offered Montgomery County's help in finding a buyer for the building and in relieving traffic congestion near the Germantown plant.