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PRESS RELEASE: ECIDA LOAN HELPS NIAGARA LUBRICANT REBUILD

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Contact: Robbie Ann McPherson
ECIDA Marketing & Communications Manager
716.856.6525 ext. 125

 

PRESS CONFERENCE & FACILITY TOUR

 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

10:00 am - 10:45 am

1057 East Delavan, Buffalo, NY

 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown

 Leon Smith III, Chairman, Niagara Lubricant

 Sheldon Bartel, Loan Officer, National Development Council

 Steve Weathers, President & CEO, ECIDA

 

OFFICIALS TOUR NIAGARA LUBRICANT FACTORY, REBUILT AT NEW LOCATION AFTER DEVASTATING 2011 FIRE

 

Buffalo, NY— Niagara Lubricant has risen, literally, from ashes and is once again churning out its oil-based products after the devastating July 13, 2011 fire that destroyed their former Black Rock location.

    Chairman Leon Smith III, President Thomas McLeod, Jr. and Vice President Leon Smith IV, have worked steadily to rebuild the family-owned business, which has been a Buffalo fixture for ninety-one years.

    "There was never a question in my mind to rebuild," said the senior Smith. "I said from the day of the fire that I was not going to lay off any employees and I meant it," he added.

Smith credits City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown with helping Niagara Lubricant regain its footing almost immediately following the fire at 164 Chandler Street.

    "We would not be here without Mayor Brown. He helped us work with the Fire Department to get our computers recovered from the fire wreckage, which was the key to everything for us as a first step. His office has been so helpful and as a business owner in the City I can say he really supports this business community," said Smith.

    "I am pleased with the way we worked together with the owners of Niagara Lubricants to ensure that the $2.4 million rebuilding of its operations moves forward in this new, modern and safe industrial facility," said Mayor Byron W. Brown, noting that Niagara Lubricants worked with the Buffalo Fire Department to install $250,000 in state-of-the-art fire and safety protection equipment as part of the renovations.  "We want all of our older industrial facilities in Buffalo to remain viable, however, it is important that we develop plans that further ensure the safety of employees and residents."

    After the July 13, 2011 fire, insurance money went to pay his employees, keep the business afloat and pay for environmental remediation at the industrial fire site. Smith found himself unable to get financing from area banks to fund rebuilding his company.

    He finally secured a $150,000 loan for equipment from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, who then connected Smith with the National Development Council. They tapped their JP Morgan Chase Foundation's SME Collaboration Grant, which added capital to the NDC-administered Grow America Fund, and the NDC was able to approve a $2.1 million loan.  With a 90% loan guarantee from the Small Business Association, Smith was finally able to begin rebuilding at the American Axle location last year.

    "This is a perfect example of what our loan programs and partnerships are designed to do," said ECIDA President and CEO Steve Weathers. "We were able to take on the risk of a smaller loan where other lenders could not, and we brought the NDC to the table. The end result is Niagara Lubricant is back in business as an employer, when the odds were against them," Weathers said.

     Erie County  Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "The fire at Niagara Lubricant put a longstanding, successful business in jeopardy and faced with an uncertain future. With loan assistance from the ECIDA and the National Development Council, Niagara Lubricant is now retooled with new equipment and a new home to replace their fire-ravaged Black Rock location, adding another page to the history of one of Buffalo's oldest employers."

    Smith now permanently employs twenty-nine people at the new 66,000 square foot facility located in the former American Axle complex, with fifty more temporary workers. He said they expect to continue their growth.

    "The space we have now, the equipment, the renovations we were able to make—we are definitely stabilized and to a point where I know we are going to get back to the success levels we had before the fire. We just keep doing a little more every day," he said.

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The Erie County Industrial Development Agency is a public benefit corporation sanctioned by the State of New York to offer tax incentives to qualified businesses, and is dedicated to furthering economic development, adaptive reuse of qualified properties, job creation and a thriving business environment in Erie County. The staff of the ECIDA are not employees of the City of Buffalo, the County of Erie, or the State of New York. The ECIDA does not receive operating funds from taxpayer revenues. The ECIDA receives its operating funds by collecting fees from businesses that enter into contracts with the Agency, from investments, and from loan fees.

For more information, visit www.ecidany.com