Made in WNY: Confer Plastics

February 24, 2014 Updated Feb 24, 2014 at 9:47 AM EDT

By Elizabeth Carey

February 24, 2014 Updated Feb 24, 2014 at 9:47 AM EDT

Confer Plastics has perfected the blow molding process since 1973 when the North Tonawanda company was founded.

Confer makes 350 kayaks a day right now at its main production facility. "The biggest portion of the business is kayaks for sure," said vice president Bob Confer. "Right now, in terms of units alone, 82,000 boats is what we made last year. We're probably going to make 95,000 kayaks this year."

Confer also makes legs for hosiery displays and even made a stunt double for the famous leg lamp in the movie "A Christmas Story." Confer produced leg lamps in the 1990s until that work was lost to China. That's when Confer decided to grow with expansions, three locations, 165 workers and bigger machines that make bigger products.

"No one wants to ship a kayak overseas or a dock, even some of our swimming pool ladders, because it would take up so much space in the boat," Confer said. "So, by getting larger, that's how we've weathered the storm. A lot of companies, from years ago, have faded into the background because they can't deal with the Chinas and the Mexicos."

Confer now has 18 blow molding machines and molds to make 280 different items. An 8-foot kayak is being now tested in stores like Home Depot and Walmart, which could keep the company afloat for a long time. "So if that takes off, there's no reason why we couldn't be making 150,000 to 160,000 boats every single year."

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