Buffalo OutFront Metalworks is moving ahead with revitalizing the former Buffalo Metal Fabricating plant, with new investment and more jobs on the way.
The company is in the midst of buying machinery, renovating the 50 Wecker St. facility, and starting its hiring process, said Laura Magee, a spokeswoman for Empire State Development.
Buffalo OutFront hopes to begin full-scale production by the end of the year or early next year, Magee said. It presently has eight employees and plans to raise the total to 57 within five years.
Buffalo OutFront makes portable garden center products, structures and merchandise displays for stores such as Home Depot, Walmart, Wegmans and Tops Markets. Its parent company, All Cover Portable Systems, is based in Beamsville, Ont., along Lake Ontario about an hour from Buffalo.
The company’s plans for Buffalo came to light last May when OutFront was granted $61,000 in sales tax breaks by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to support the project. The state will provide the company with up to $450,000 in Excelsior tax credits.
Buffalo OutFront is investing more than $2 million in acquiring real estate, construction and renovation, and the purchase of machinery and equipment. Elected officials gathered Friday at the OutFront site, near East Delavan and Bailey avenues, to applaud the economic impact of the project.
Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said Buffalo Metal Fabricating was at risk of going out of business when Buffalo OutFront stepped in with a plan to rejuvenate the operation.
Collaboration between Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and ECIDA helped bring Buffalo OutFront here, said Paul Pfeiffer, a BNE spokesman.
In 2010, BNE hosted a marketing outreach event, sponsored by National Grid, called “Shooting for Success” in Oakville, Ont. Canadian companies that had opened operations in Buffalo Niagara were on hand to share their experiences with other Canadian companies that were curious about the idea, Pfeiffer said. One of the guests was Tony Van Es, now the president of Buffalo Outfront. “They were looking for an acquisition opportunity [in Buffalo], but we simply didn’t have one,” Pfeiffer said.
More recently, the ECIDA was looking for a way to help the struggling Buffalo Metal Fabricating, and asked BNE if it knew of any potential buyers. The past connection with Van Es paid off, opening the door to the deal that resulted, Pfeiffer said.
“It gives an indication of how long it takes for some of these things to come together,” he said.