Hoffmanns Considering Missouri Meerschaum Corncob Pipe Plant for Potential Acquisition | Local News

The corn-on-the-cob pipe capital of the world may soon become the Hoffmann corn-on-the-cob pipe capital of the world.

After a press conference to announce plans for a new 12-hole golf course in Augusta, David Hoffmann of the Hoffmann family of companies said he and his wife, Jerri, were considering the pipe business in Missouri Meerschaum Co. corn cob and building as their next acquisition.

Over the past year, the Hoffmanns have bought or signaled their intention to buy a number of Washington-area businesses and wineries to create a $ 125 million national tourist destination to rival Napa Valley. . These purchases, completed or in progress, include NOA Medical Industries, Washington, Mid-America Coaches, Washington, Ferguson Valley Nursery in Warren County, Town and Country Nursery, Dutzow, and four wineries in Augusta: Montelle Winery, Augusta Winery, Mount Pleasant estates and Balducci vineyards. The couple are also planning to open a large hotel and conference center in Augusta and a boutique hotel on the former Emmaüs Home campus in Marthasville. David Hoffmann declined to share details of any negotiations for the purchase or the couple’s potential plans for the Missouri Meerschaum company, which is based in an 1880s factory on Front Street in Washington.

“We just love it the way it is,” he said. “Just think it would be nice to have in our cart ride to come (to Augusta), go to our wineries, go to our golf course, go to our boat, get off in Washington and take a ride, we think. that that would be really cool.

Phil Morgan, Managing Director of Missouri Meerschaum, has confirmed that Osprey Capital, a Chicago-area investment firm owned by the Hoffmann family of companies, has contacted current owners of the firm, Bob Moore, of Mexico City. , Missouri; Larry Horton, of Sedalia, Missouri; and Michael Lechtenberg, of Lawrence, Kansas. Morgan said discussions had not progressed much beyond an initial expression of interest and that he was not sure if any plans or potential pricing had been raised, but he said David Hoffmann had shown little interest in changing a lot of things about the factory.

“When he first spoke to them, his interest was in making it work, not just buying the building and refitting it,” Morgan said of the plant.

He said if David Hoffmann had said otherwise about the company, which dates back to 1869, the owners would likely have given it a “strong no”.

“He basically, I think, said that (the company) is an iconic institution in Washington. There’s a lot of history here, and not just about the Missouri Meerschaum, but Washington itself is so tied to the corn-on-the-cob pipe company. He recognizes it. He’s from Washington. He understands the unique place that Missouri Meerschaum is, and that he intends to keep it, not shut it down or move the business elsewhere, that he intends to keep it here, ” Morgan said.

At 400 W. Front St., the Missouri Meerschaum building has three stories and is over 50,000 square feet. It is currently zoned industrial, allowing for the manufacture of pipes, but at its October 4 meeting, the city council signaled that it is likely to rezone much of the city center, including the factory, for use. mixed, according to Sal Maniaci, Washington director of community and economic development.

Maniaci said the rezoning of the C-3 would allow retail, residential, commercial or other uses, although he does not speculate on how the Hoffmanns might use the Missouri Meerschaum if the purchase were to go through. For a while, Maniaci said, the city has been interested in redeveloping unused parts of the Missouri Meerschaum building, and he’s interested in the Hoffmann’s plans.

“It’s really, really exciting to have someone who can afford to make that kind of investment in our community, to see the potential of Washington, the potential of downtown as a regional destination for people.” , said Maniaci. “But, to have someone like him and his wife, who have connections here, who grew up here, not only to see the potential, but also to want to come back and invest their money in a place where they grew up, we think. how awesome.