DRS Technologies will close its Cheektowaga location by year’s end, citing the negative impact of “market conditions and the industry environment.”
The business is the former Sierra Research, founded in 1957 by engineers from Bell Aircraft Corp.
“This difficult decision was made after much thought and consideration given the long-standing relationship that DRS has had in the local community,” said Lorraine M. Corcoran, a DRS spokeswoman.
Corcoran said she could not disclose how many jobs will be eliminated at the defense electronics business, which has a long history in the region. Many of the affected employees are being offered opportunities to relocate with the company, and other employees will be provided outplacement help.
The Cheektowaga operations will relocated among several other DRS sites in the United States over the next several months, Corcoran said. She said there was nothing specific about the Buffalo-area business climate that left the Cheektowaga location vulnerable.
“We’re constantly evaluating the best locations for us to conduct business in as the market demands,” Corcoran said.
DRS leases space in a Cayuga Drive building owned by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, west of Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The company’s lease was scheduled to expire at the end of March; the NFTA granted DRS’ request to extend its lease through the end of the year and then end its tenancy.
Sierra Research, founded 56 years ago, specialized in defense-oriented electronics and communications. The business was acquired by LTV Corp. in 1983, according to Buffalo News archives. Dallas-based Sierra Technologies bought Sierra Research in 1991, before selling it to Veritas Capital Fund LP in 1999.
Veritas formed Integrated Defense Technologies as a platform for several companies it owned, including Sierra.
In 2003, DRS Technologies acquired Integrated Defense Technologies – including Sierra – for $550 million.
In 2008, Italy-based Finmeccanica bought DRS for about $5.2 billion. DRS supplies integrated products, services and support to military forces, intelligence agencies and prime contractors worldwide. It employs about 70,000 worldwide.
Ruth Keating, senior counsel and manager of real property for the NFTA, told the authority’s board of commissioners this week that the NFTA is talking with Executive Air Share, another tenant there, about filling some of the space DRS will vacate. Information provided by the NFTA said DRS and its predecessor, Sierra, had leased space at 485 Cayuga Road since 1964.
DRS will pay rent of about $429,000 to cover the lease extension for its Cheektowaga space, from April 1 through Dec. 31, the NFTA said. DRS leases about 125,000 square feet in the Cayuga Drive building and 2,000 square feet in a nearby Quonset hut. The company also leases about 5,500 square feet on a month-to-month basis. DRS will relinquish 26,000 square feet of space known as hangar bay 6 as of April 1.