July 22, 2015

In Good Company

– Collierville Magazine 2002-2003 Business section –

One of Collierville’s newest businesses made a smart move when choosing to relocate to this ever-growing community. Helena Chemical Company recently moved to Collierville’s Schilling Farms, bringing with it 200 employees and an impressive office space.

Helena began its operations in 1957 in West Helena, Arkansas, as a formulator and distributor of agricultural chemicals. As the business began to grow, Helena expanded along the country’s coastal area, moving into both the southeast, the southwest, and eventually Florida and California.

Currently, Helena Chemical has more than 250 locations that sell a wide array of agricultural inputs, such as crop protection chemicals, fertilizer, and seed and information services that help customers fine-tune their inputs for the highest returns.  The business employs more than 2,500 people across the country, but their headquarters are right here in Collierville.

Helena’s original Memphis headquarters were located in East Memphis’ Crescent Club and when it was time for their 10-year lease-end review, the company began exploring other possible locations.  After looking at several options and consulting with various companies, Helena was approached by representatives from Schilling Farms, Collierville’s 443-acre mixed-use planned community.

“Schilling Farms was just getting started as a business and residential center, and the more we looked at it, the more attractive it became,”explains Helena spokesperson Jim Arnold.  Schilling Farms’ prime location along Nonconnah Parkway at the eastern end of what planners are calling the “technology corridor” makes it a very attractive place for businesses.  “We liked the idea of having an office built specifically for our needs, and working in a less congested area.  And the newly built [Nonconnah] Parkway provided excellent transportation for many of our employees,” Arnold adds.

Another factor in the decision-making process was the tax break offered by the town of Collierville, and when the alternatives were laid out, Collierville was the most attractive choice.

Mainly we were looking for a site that would serve the needs of our corporate employees, which help to improve the services we offer to our sales locations all across the country.   Our Schilling Farms location provides that,” says Arnold.

Once the location was decided upon, the company hired Hnedak Bobo Group to design the handsome four-story office building.  The 104,000 square-foot structure was created from brick, pre-cast concrete, and a high-performance reflective glass.  It’s an attractive addition to Schilling Farms, which is also home to residential neighborhoods, a middle school, BankTennessee, the regional headquarters of the Thyssen-Dover elevator Company, and the Collierville YMCA among others.

Arnold says that many of Helena employees were already familiar with Collierville, but those who weren’t have been favorably impressed.  The abundance of restaurants and such amenities as the YMCA have made Helena’s employees pleased with the company’s decisions to relocate.  “We were also impressed with the friendliness of the people here and their eagerness to get to know us,” says Arnold.  “The longer we are here, the more impressed we are.”

While the name of the business might conjure up industrial smokestack images, nothing could be farther from reality.  Helena Chemical’s primary business is to service their retail and wholesale customers with the agricultural inputs needed to operate.   Their customers range from golf courses, nurseries, and greenhouses to railroads and power companies, and all benefit form Helena’s product line and information services.

Companies who are in the business of helping others need a little help too, which is why Arnold  says joining the ranks of the Collierville Chamber of Commerce was a logical step after relocating.  “We were also a member of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce before we moved to Collierville, and it makes sense from a business point of view to become more involved and get to know the town’s business leaders,” Arnold explains.

When Helena created its $10 million office in Schilling Farms, the company committed to a 15-year lease, so it is looking forward to a long relationship with the town of Collierville.  And like many other companies that have moved to the area because of the amenities and business incentives, Helena Chemical plans on giving back to the community as well.

“We’ve always done our best to help improve the community, whether that means doing fund-raisers for the United Way, conducting blood drives, or other activities,” says Arnold.  “Helena has always strived to be a responsible corporate citizen whenever we conduct business.”