WEX Inc.’s outgoing CEO said the company still intends to expand its headquarters in South Portland, but the project has been put on hold for at least two years.

After speaking at a gala event Thursday to celebrate the credit card payment-processing company’s 30th anniversary, CEO Michael Dubyak told the Portland Press Herald that the company has reached full capacity at its South Portland campus.

Still, he said WEX will hold off for now on a planned expansion. Dubyak indicated that a change in circumstances had prompted the decision, but he would not provide additional details.

“Things changed, so we decided to take a step back and call time-out for a while,” he said.

Dubyak said the company has sufficient real estate for an expansion at its existing headquarters campus, but that no new facilities would be built for at least two years.

The company receives a tax subsidy from the city of South Portland known as tax increment financing for its existing facilities at 225 Gorham Road. The 15-year subsidy is set to expire on June 30, 2016. It’s likely that any expansion plans would involve an extension of that tax break.

In late July, WEX officials met with South Portland planners and the state Department of Environmental Protection about building a 100,000-square-foot addition to the Gorham Road campus.

But earlier this week, the company released a statement that it had decided not to move forward. No specific explanation was given.

The campus currently includes about 150,000 feet of work space divided among four buildings that include administrative offices, a call center and a data center. WEX processes credit card purchases of fuel and vehicle maintenance. It also has expanded into the market for virtual credit cards in the travel and health care industries.

Dubyak said WEX’s interim plan to handle employee growth is through the use of “satellite space” in the area.

There are indications the company had been considering another possible option for increasing the size of its headquarters: relocating to a planned office project at Thompson’s Point in Portland.

Thompson’s Point developer Chris Thompson of Forefront Partners I said in June that he was working with a large office tenant on plans for it to occupy the planned 175,000-square-foot office building.

While Thompson did not specify that the prospective office tenant was WEX, he indicated this week that Forefront Partners was now in discussions with two tenants that would each occupy a portion of the building.

WEX did acknowledge this week in its written statement on the expansion that “WEX has considered a variety of potential options for new office space,” but would not say whether Thompson’s Point had been one of them.

Dubyak, who plans to retire from his CEO position at the end of the year but remain WEX’s executive chairman, told a crowd of more than 600 employees at the anniversary celebration Thursday that the company is committed to staying in the area. “We are proud to be headquartered here,” he said.

WEX has more than 680 employees working at the Gorham Road campus. Any future expansion project likely would take place under the leadership of WEX President Melissa Smith, who is set to take over as CEO in January.

“The future of WEX is really with Melissa,” Dubyak told employees at the anniversary event, which featured several high-profile guests, including Sen. Angus King, an independent, former Sen. George Mitchell, a Democrat, and former Gov. John McKernan Jr., a Republican.

All of the guests praised WEX for being one of Maine’s most notable business success stories. The company, founded in 1983 as Wright Express, completed an initial public offering in 2005 and changed its name to WEX Inc. in 2012.

It has about 1,400 employees worldwide.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @jcraiganderson


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