Niagara Lubricants takes step to rebuild after fire

August 21, 2012 Updated Aug 21, 2012 at 7:46 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First

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August 21, 2012 Updated Aug 21, 2012 at 7:46 AM EDT

Its building gutted by a fire last summer, Niagara Lubricants has received an incentive package from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to allow it to rebuild its Chandler Street operations.

The IDA incentives were considered crucial for the 90-year-old Buffalo company. Niagara Lubricants makes products such as oils and greases primarily used in the automotive industry. It has plans to replace its fire-ravaged facility with a 60,000-square-foot plant that will employ 40 people, nine more than it currently has on its payroll.

"I'm glad to see this company rebuilding," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. "They are taking an older, industrial facility and now, it is going to be a new, modern industrial facility. And they are building in a place that has long been an industrial area."

John Cappellino, Erie County Industrial Development Agency executive vice president, said as part of the new building, Niagara Lubricants is installing state-of-the-art fire and safety protection equipment that has been approved by Buffalo and Erie County fire and public safety officials.

Niagara Lubricants is investing $2.24 million in the project.

Company officials said more than 50 percent of its sales come from outside New York state, and 13 percent of those sales are to foreign companies.

In other action:

• IDA directors approved allocating up to $1 million for infrastructure upgrades to a portion of the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. property in Lackawanna, where Canada-based Welded Tube plans to build a $50 million fabrication plant.

The grant will help underwrite the cost of road, water and sewer repairs.

Welded Tube hopes to employ more than 125 people when the plant opens. The project represents the first private-sector investment in portions of the Bethlehem Steel property is almost a generation. Welded Tube was recruited to the area jointly by the ECIDA and the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise.

"It really surprised us at the lack of roads and infrastructure there," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a major champion of the Welded Tube project. "The roads were so bad that our county van literally disabled itself. There was no water, no sewers and we just assumed there would have been."

Poloncarz said the infrastructure work not only benefits Welded Tube but any other company recruited to the Bethlehem Steel property.

• Directors approved an incentive package for USItek Inc. to move and expand into a Niagara Falls Boulevard building in the Town of Tonawanda. USItek will be investing $935,000 and creating eight jobs.

• The Zenger Group also received incentives for its $4 million plan to combine most of its local operations into the former Science Kit building on East Park Drive in the Town of Tonawanda.

The commercial printer hopes to add 20 jobs with the move. Zenger currently employs 89 people.

Zenger will be consolidating operations it has on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo, South Taylor Road in Orchard Park and Lakeview Road in Hamburg into the new building. The Buffalo and Orchard Park sites will be put on the local real estate market, while the Hamburg building will be used as a surplus warehouse and the expansion of a self-storage operation on the property, according to IDA documents.

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