By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO A restaurant in Monticello is staying true to its Asian roots, despite the fact you’ll find trucks instead of food from the Far East.
The sign of the well-known Hana Restaurant has already been replaced with one known even better: Robert Green.
“Our business growth on the commercial truck side has been dramatic,” Green affirmed this month.
For example, more than 100 of the Japanese-manufactured Mitsubishi Fuso trucks have been sold through the division, said sales manager Paul Murphy.
And so when Hana came up for sale last year, Green bought it with expansion in mind. Hana’s 3.6 acres, after all, sit next door to his Chrysler dealership and just a few hundred yards from his commercial truck and Chevy dealerships.
“It was a perfect fit from a geographic standpoint,” he said.
Now, a host of local contractors are not only renovating Hana but doubling its size to 17,000 square feet, turning it into both the retail and service hub of Green’s commercial truck division.
By the time the 14-bay garage, parts shop, offices and showroom open this fall, Green expects to add 15 more people to a staff already 60 strong.
He’s both proud and confident of a very deliberate choice to stay local despite the company’s reach, which extends throughout the Northeast and into Ohio and Virginia.
“Sullivan County is a great place to live and do business,” Green acknowledged, noting the attractiveness of the labor pool, the site’s location close to Route 17, and the relatively low taxes compared with the many metro areas in which he does business.
“Most of our staff has been with the company for at least two decades,” he pointed out. “They have been and continue to be key to our growth.”
Partnership for Economic Development Executive Director Allan Scott calls Green’s plans one of several “glimmers of hope” in the depressed local economy.
Others include the ASB Greenworld mulch plant coming online in the Town of Bethel, the Center for Discovery’s future autism assessment facility in Harris, and Achieve’s expansion in Liberty.
“They are fully committed to our Sullivan County economy,” he observed, noting that amongst all four projects, nearly 400 new jobs may be created.
“There’s a lot of square footage that can be filled up closer to the city,” Scott noted of the particular challenge in attracting businesses, “so anytime that somebody makes an investment in Sullivan County, that’s good.”
He added that Green, a member of the Partnership, has not taken advantage of any tax breaks or incentives, even though his business is eligible to apply for such.
“He has found Sullivan County is a good place for him to invest,” Scott assessed. “He feels we have a favorable labor market ... and obviously he’s got a good business model, a good direction and a good location.”