After President Obama and his White House entourage left, when the television cameras were off, David Sullivan and managers at Industrial Support Inc. gathered in his office late Thursday and cracked open a few beers to celebrate one heck of a day.
How often does the president of the United States come to your company?
"Unbelievable," said Sullivan, founder and president of Industrial Support. "The man is incredible -- sharp, funny, personable. People were crying talking to him. The thing couldn't have gone better."
Company officials spent about 45 minutes with Obama, introducing him to employees and giving him a tour of the plant, which manufactures a variety of products, from aeronautical parts to salad bars for the grocery industry.
They showered the president with gifts, including a company fleece, some fitted Buffalo Braves caps from New Era and a care package from Buffalo's Ani DiFranco.
Sullivan told Obama that 15 years ago he was in a shoe-box of an office, struggling to meet payroll. Today, he was shaking hands with the president.
"That's the American dream," Obama told Sullivan, as he gave him a big hug.
"That," Sullivan said, "was cool."
Obama spent a couple of minutes chatting with James Vance, a press machine operator who wore an unusual watch that includes a portrait of the 44th president and the White House.
"He said he had never seen anything like that before," said Vance, who received the watch as a Christmas gift from his daughter.
As Sullivan showed Obama the plant, whose workers are non-union, company officials talked to the president about how the federal government can help small business.
Along the way, the president talked with several workers, including Michael Massucci of Orchard Park, manager of machinery.
"The employee base here is just like family. Mr. Obama recognized that right away," Massucci said.
Some people appreciated what Obama is doing with health care but asked him to help companies further reduce growing employee health care costs, said Anthony Sabuda, vice president for sales and marketing for Industrial Support.
"We talked to him about freeing up credit, so credit can be more accessible," he said.
During Thursday's visit to Buffalo, Obama won over some new supporters, like Bill Liscavage, the company's purchasing manager.
"Before today I wasn't a big supporter of his," Liscavage said, "but now that I heard him speak, and the way he interacts with people, he really impressed me. I thought he was great. He could have [gone] to GM, Dunlop, Ford Stamping. But he came here to talk to Dave Sullivan."
Frank Caparaso, a retired Depew police officer who voted for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in 2008, was one of four people who had a chance to question Obama following the president's speech inside Industrial Support.
Caparaso asked if Buffalo would benefit from transit system improvements. Obama gave no promises for this region but agreed that investment in infrastructure was a high priority for the entire country.
"He didn't exactly answer the question," said Caparaso, who was invited to the session by Sullivan, a family friend.
But Caparaso also acknowledged that Obama's "got a tough row to hoe" and had impressed simply by coming here and speaking directly to the middle class.
"Let's face it: This country was in a mess. Banks were failing, we're at war, what else can go wrong?" said Caparaso. "If he can straighten it out just a little bit, good for him."