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New owners breathe fresh life into Newton Man building

It has been less than six months since Newton Elite Properties, LLC purchased the former Newton Manufacturing building and the developers have already secured businesses to fill up 50 percent of the space.

Julie Prendergast, Rick Roush and Josh and Becky Firkins took over ownership of the 37,000 square foot building at 1123 First Ave. E. in December and have three businesses either working from or getting ready to move in to the well-known property.

“The first section we leased out was to PSG and that is a promotional company that is based out of Maryland,” Prendergast said. “(Since moving in) it has expanded three times to 3,500 square feet.”

In April, Bliss Therapy Massage moved into a 2,000 square foot space, essentially tripling the size of what the former business location. From four therapists sharing two rooms to now five therapists each having their own room, owner Jenny Hill said the added space has given the business more flexibility for scheduling because they aren’t all working around each other.

“We are extremely happy,” Hill said. “My room is almost twice the size of what it used to be, and they all basically follow suit to that.”

Hill said she started looking for a new location at the beginning of the year because the lease at her previous building was going to be up. More room was a priority for Hill but after looking at available spaces in the city, she wasn’t finding anything that economically worked out.

“I saw in the paper that they were wanting to split it up and saw the sign, called them up and worked with them to get the space,” Hill said. “This space is extremely convenient.”

The new space has also made it possible to add a break room for the therapists and has provided more storage opportunities for the business.

The latest business to announce it is moving to the building is Capstone Behavioral Healthcare. The nonprofit community mental health center has seen tremendous of growth in the past five years and now needs additional space to continue serving its large clientele base.

“We are excited to announce our upcoming move to the former Newton Manufacturing building,” center director Julie Smith said. “We are gaining square feet so we can continue to grow our services.”

Over the last five years, the staff has expanded from 32 to more than 60 professionals serving Newton and the surrounding communities. In that time, the center has also gone from serving 800 clients annually to more than 3,200 clients.

To better serve the continually growing need, the nonprofit will move from a 3,600 square foot space with limited accessibility to more than 10,000 square feet at the new building. The building the business is vacating will continue to be used by Capstone for other purposes.

Smith said the business hopes to be up and running at the new location by June 1.

Newton Manufacturing declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2015, and the company was purchased by HALO Branded Solutions of Sterling, Ill. not long after. According to former president Mancil Laidig, the business had gone from having $83 million in annual sales, with 167 employees and approximately 700 independent salespeople in 2000 to $26.2 million in sales, 59 staff and about 400 salespeople for the 12 months ending March 31, 2015.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or

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