Manufacturing

Two Plattsburgh companies await ESD funds

By: DAN HEATH

PLATTSBURGH — Two local companies are seeking $825,000 in Empire State Development funding for recent manufacturing projects.

Empire State Development held public hearings on a $450,000 grant for Swarovski Lighting and a $375,000 loan for UMS Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Schluter Systems. The hearings are part of the process for approval by the New York State Public Authorities Control Board, and funds are tentatively scheduled for release Jan. 17.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said the state is pleased to be able to help North Country manufacturers.

“Under the governor’s leadership, Empire State Development will continue to focus its efforts on rebuilding the North Country economy, as well as other Upstate regions, and growing its core employment sectors, such as manufacturing, to create good jobs and generate critical private investment, while reinvigorating its urban city centers,” he said by email.

FACILITY RENOVATION

Swarovski Lighting in Air Industrial Park in the Town of Plattsburgh would use its grant to cover some of the costs of its recent $3.4 million facility renovation project, which was completed in April. 

Shonbek Worldwide Lighting applied for funding in 2006. Empire State Development offered a $450,000 capital grant in July of that year to support the upgrade project, which was expected to retain 325 jobs at the plant.

Shonbek was subsequently acquired by Swarovski in 2007, which then transferred its own lighting production to the Plattsburgh location. The new management team reviewed the project and accepted a revised grant proposal in 2008.

Swarovski invested $377,262 for safety, infrastructure and layout improvements to the portions of the 200,000-square-foot facility where manufacturing, engineering, marketing, sales and administrative operations are located.

It also spent $1.3 million on new equipment for product design, operations and manufacturing and $542,125 on new computer equipment for product design and manufacturing. Another $78,842 went to employee training, primarily on lean manufacturing practices and use of the new computer systems.

GRANT REQUIREMENT

Swarovski also invested $1 million to cover product certification costs. That is needed to be able to sell new products such as LED lights and dimmers that fall outside products previously certified for sale in other countries.

The grant would require Swarovski to have at least 325 full-time equivalent employees. According to a project description provided by Empire State Development, the company has 345 in Plattsburgh.

The project has led to a 20 percent increase in international sales, the company said. It has also allowed the manufacturing of new products within 60 days of their introduction to the market.

‘SALES INCREASED’

UMS Manufacturing, at 194 Pleasant Ridge Road in Plattsburgh, is seeking a $375,000 loan to cover part of its investment in machinery and equipment when it spent $10.2 million to build a 55,000-square-foot facility for production of its Kerdi Board line. That facility went online in 2010.

UMS invested $45,000 for land acquisition, $3.5 million for construction, $6.4 million for machinery and equipment and $250,000 for office equipment as part of the project. The Kerdi Board machine is one of only two in the world, with the other located in Germany.

Sales have increased rapidly since the product was launched, company officials said, and led to a joint venture with Selit on a 17,160-square-foot facility on the Schluter campus to produce the extruded foam that is bonded to the Kerdi waterproof membrane to create Kerdi Board, which is a universal substrate for tiles.

The 5-year loan would carry a 3 percent interest rate. It would become a grant if employment levels of 105 employees at Schluter and 40 at UMS are maintained for the term of the loan. 

There were 122 employees at the two facilities as of December.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

Published: