Harper to relocate to ex-Quebecor site

January 15, 2013 Updated Jan 15, 2013 at 7:09 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By James Fink, Buffalo Business First Reporter

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January 15, 2013 Updated Jan 15, 2013 at 7:09 AM EDT

Months after failing to come to terms with a Lancaster property owner, Harper International is going ahead with plans to move its local operations in the former Quebecor plant in Depew.

The shift and accompanying $5.5 million expansion project at the site on George Urban Boulevard will move forward after the Erie County Industrial Development Agency unanimously approved an incentive package Monday.

Once the move is completed, Harper is expected to add 16 workers to its 106-person workforce.

Harper International, according to ECIDA documents, would occupy 175,000-square-feet in the sprawling 850,000-square-foot plant. The company is also considering adding 10,000-square-feet in new construction to its leased space.

Also, Harper has an option to purchase its leased space from the plant's new owner, George Urban Associates LLC, in early 2014.

The company, with local roots dating back more than one century, makes thermal processing systems such as high-tech furnaces and carbon fiber production lines. More than half of its products are exported outside the U.S. to such countries as China, Turkey and Korea.

Harper, last year, had hoped to expand elsewhere in Lancaster but that deal fell through during lease negotiations with the owner of the building the company had eyed.

After those talks stalled, Harper turned its attention to the former Quebecor plant.

The former Quebecor plant was acquired by a partnership headed by local businessmen Peter Wilson and Frank Campofelice. The partnership paid $4.38 million for the complex that sits on 65 acres of land.

"The thought of having that building sit empty would have been a disaster," said Cheektowaga Supervisor Mary Holtz.

Wilson and Campofelice had the Quebecor building under contract since late spring almost one year after the Wisconsion-based Quad Graphics closed the longtime printing plant. The deal was brokered by Richard Schecter from Pyramid Brokerage Co. of Buffalo.

Wilson is the president on Sonwil Distribution Center, with operations in Cheektowaga, Buffalo and Elma. Campofelice, in November, added to his real estate holdings when his company purchased the Southgate Plaza for $17.48 million.

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