FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2001

Lila White
www.thedigitaldominion.com
(804) 692-3110


Marti Morenings
Universal Companies, Inc
540) 466-9110, ext. 3111
Jill Lawrence
VEDP
(804) 371-0049
Governor Gilmore Announces 104 New and Retained Jobs in Washington County
--Universal Companies invests $3 million- -


Richmond - Governor Jim Gilmore today announced that Universal Companies, Inc. will expand and combine its corporate office and distribution facility in the Westinghouse Industrial Park in Washington County. Universal Companies, the leading single source provider of products to the Day Spa industry, will invest $3 million in this expansion. The company will also hire 74 new employees while retaining the 30 existing employees. Virginia successfully competed with Tennessee for this investment.

"I am pleased the Commonwealth's home-grown companies, including Universal Companies Inc., are decidedly choosing the expand and grow in their backyards," Governor Gilmore said. "This is yet another testament to Virginia's pro-business climate, which continues to appeal to locally established industries and those considering Virginia as a future home."

Governor Gilmore approved a $100,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Washington County with site preparation. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Washington County Industrial Development Authority and the City of Bristol assisted Universal Companies with its decision. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide workforce training services. The company will also benefit from further tax incentives because they will be locating in an Enterprise Zone.

Universal Companies, Inc. was formed in its current restructured organization in 1997. A strategic business plan was formulated at that time to focus on distributing products and equipment to the burgeoning spa and skin care industry. Since that time, the company has enjoyed explosive growth, more than doubling revenue in each of the past three fiscal years. Universal's e-commerce site is under development, further enhancing the company's dominant position in the spa distribution market.

A longtime resident of Virginia and founder of Universal Companies, which has prospered in Bristol Virginia, Ms. Marti Morenings, President and CEO, said "it is with a particular feeling of pride that we have been able to find a site so appropriate to the needs of our growing company within this area." She further stated, "In addition to distributing products and equipment to the spa and skin care industry, we will be training personnel from various parts of the United States and increasingly from foreign countries. I can think of no area more suited for this; not only the attractiveness of the site, but the fact that within a very short distance there is the availability of quality hotel facilities and restaurants. We are looking forward to remaining a key employer in Southwestern Virginia for many years to come."

"We are very excited that this expansion will enable Universal Companies to move from strictly catalog sales to Internet fulfillment as well," said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Barry E. DuVal. "The company will also take advantage of the Commonwealth's high quality workforce in hiring its new employees."

"Washington County is proud to be selected as the corporate headquarters for Universal Companies, Inc., a company whose reputation for quality and service in the spa industry brings international recognition to our county," said Joe W. Derting, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Washington County. "Their progressive customer care and call center operation will diversify our local employment base."


Governor Jim Gilmore today announced that Universal Companies, Inc. will expand and combine its corporate office and distribution facility in the Westinghouse Industrial Park in Washington County. Universal Companies, the leading single source provider of products to the Day Spa industry, will invest $3 million in this expansion. The company will also hire 74 new employees while retaining the 30 existing employees. Virginia successfully competed with Tennessee for this investment.
"I am pleased the Commonwealth's home-grown companies, including Universal Companies Inc., are decidedly choosing the expand and grow in their backyards," Governor Gilmore said. "This is yet another testament to Virginia's pro-business climate, which continues to appeal to locally established industries and those considering Virginia as a future home."

Governor Gilmore approved a $100,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Washington County with site preparation. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Washington County Industrial Development Authority and the City of Bristol assisted Universal Companies with its decision. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide workforce training services. The company will also benefit from further tax incentives because they will be locating in an Enterprise Zone.

Universal Companies, Inc. was formed in its current restructured organization in 1997. A strategic business plan was formulated at that time to focus on distributing products and equipment to the burgeoning spa and skin care industry. Since that time, the company has enjoyed explosive growth, more than doubling revenue in each of the past three fiscal years. Universal's e-commerce site is under development, further enhancing the company's dominant position in the spa distribution market.

A longtime resident of Virginia and founder of Universal Companies, which has prospered in Bristol Virginia, Ms. Marti Morenings, President and CEO, said "it is with a particular feeling of pride that we have been able to find a site so appropriate to the needs of our growing company within this area." She further stated, "In addition to distributing products and equipment to the spa and skin care industry, we will be training personnel from various parts of the United States and increasingly from foreign countries. I can think of no area more suited for this; not only the attractiveness of the site, but the fact that within a very short distance there is the availability of quality hotel facilities and restaurants. We are looking forward to remaining a key employer in Southwestern Virginia for many years to come."

"We are very excited that this expansion will enable Universal Companies to move from strictly catalog sales to Internet fulfillment as well," said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Barry E. DuVal. "The company will also take advantage of the Commonwealth's high quality workforce in hiring its new employees."

"Washington County is proud to be selected as the corporate headquarters for Universal Companies, Inc., a company whose reputation for quality and service in the spa industry brings international recognition to our county," said Joe W. Derting, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Washington County. "Their progressive customer care and call center operation will diversify our local employment base."






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