Pittsfield armored car maker Lenco takes heat for inventory overstock
This story has been modified to correctly attribute the statement about ignorance of the law being no excuse.
PITTSFIELD — For a local armored car manufacturer, a surge in orders has been a boon for business.
But it also has gotten the company into hot water with the city.
Lenco Industries was called before the Licensing Board this week for exceeding the capacity of its vehicle inventory license.
"We may have doubled in size because we're so busy with police work for government agencies," said Lenco manager Leonard W. Light. "Our sales this year will be the highest we have ever had as a company in our 35-year history."
The company has a pair of Class II car licenses to store a maximum of 25 vehicles at 10 BETNR Industrial Drive and only 10 vehicles at its 61 Downing Industrial Drive location.
But in a written complaint filed with the Licensing Board, Pittsfield Fire Department Lt. Randy Stein, the city's fire inspector, reported more than 100 vehicles parked on each site.
"If we have a fire in one of those vehicles and it spreads throughout and the way they are parked, they will lose inventory," he told the board during Monday's monthly meeting.
Stein is also concerned about too many vehicles impeding fire truck access to the manufacturing buildings.
Light said the company was unaware that it was violating the city's vehicle inventory license, and he vowed to correct what Pittsfield officials say is a fire safety hazard.
"We looked at the process for applying for the license every year as what we needed to do," he said. "The fact it said 25 vehicles [on one of them], truthfully, we didn't notice it."
The board seemed taken aback by Light's admission.
Board Chairman Carmen C. Massimiano said too often, license holders flout local regulations.
"This happens all the time: 'Oh, was I supposed to have 10?,' " he said as an example. " 'Yes, the 100 is a little over the 10.' "
Massimiano said ignorance of the law is no excuse.
"It's their due diligence to keep track of the licenses they have and what the requirements are," he said.
Stein noted he hasn't issued any fines to Lenco and believes there is almost enough space at both locations to map out a proper parking plan and still create a fire lane.
Light told the board he expects the inventory to be greatly reduced within four to six weeks.
Meanwhile, the company will work closely with city fire officials to develop a long-term parking plan and plan to seek licenses to increase the number of vehicles allowed at both company locations.
In recent years, Lenco has increased employment to meet the growing demand for the company's armored vehicles used by the military, police agencies and governments around the world.
Light said the company has "grown dramatically" over the last two years and now has 110 employees.
He said the problem is Lenco is making the vehicles faster than they can ship them out.
"We're in a large contract right now for 300 vehicles to be exported," he said, referring to a contract to make armored vehicles for the Royal Omani Police in the Middle Eastern country of Oman. "Normally we wouldn't be in this fix. [The client] is taking them in groups of 25."
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233
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