EDIC helps Appleton find new Lynn site


June 10, 2014
Special to the Item/The Daily Item

With his family’s business having been based in Lynn for 87 years, Ronald L. Appleton, Inc. President Jim Appleton was dreading the prospect of being forced to relocate outside the city. Yet, that is the scenario he was facing when the company had to vacate its Commercial Street headquarters and could not find any suitable space in Lynn.

“We desperately wanted to stay in Lynn, but we scoured the city and we couldn’t find anything,” Appleton said. “We were going to rent in Salem.”

Enter James Cowdell, executive director of the Economic Development Industrial Corporation (EDIC/Lynn). He called Appleton and told him EDIC would help him find space in the city.

Cowdell identified 270 South Common St. — former home of Lynn Ladder — as a potential site for Appleton. The building was owned by local contractor and developer Pat McGrath, who sold it to Appleton, which almost doubled its space, from 11,000 square feet to 21,000.

“We wanted to buy if we could afford it,” said Appleton, whose company was able to procure a significant loan ($110,000) from EDIC for down payment and moving expenses. “EDIC played a major role. The loan allowed us to get into this building. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

“We are happy that Appleton’s can still call Lynn home,” Cowdell said.

Founded in 1927 by Jim Appleton’s grandfather, Ronald L. Appleton, Inc. is a complete event rental company, providing tents, chairs, tables, sound systems, staging, lighting, dishware — “anything you could possibly want for a party with the exception of food,” Jim Appleton said.

Appleton can handle events from a handful of people to thousands. The company has several large clients, including Boston College, Harvard, Massport and iRobot. While May, June, September and October are the busiest months, Appleton said the winter months are appreciably busier now than 10 years ago.

Appleton regularly works with eight caterers and a handful of party planners. As evidence of how much the business has grown, Jim Appleton recalled buying a 20 x 20-foot tent for $1,500. He is considering buying a 50 x 150 tent for $80,000.

Appleton, Inc. remains a family business. Jim took over for his father, Robert, as president in 1995. His three sons — Matthew, John and Paul — all work there, along with his nephew, Roy Mace. There are about a dozen employees overall.

“We’ve always been a Lynn company and we are happy to be able to stay in Lynn,” Jim Appleton said.



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