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A Canadian natural health products contract manufacturer has acquired a pair of West Seneca industrial buildings that were used by the parent of Univera Healthcare as a medical clinic and a facilities maintenance warehouse.

Reena Group of Companies, based in Scarborough, Ont., paid $1.4 million to buy the buildings at 130 and 150 Empire Drive from Excellus Health Plan, the owner of Univera and part of Lifetime Healthcare Companies of Rochester.

The buildings had been used for nonmanufacturing purposes, but the buyer is likely to return them to industrial use, said David Schiller of Pyramid Brokerage Co. of Buffalo, who represented Excellus in the deal.

“We had a lot of interest in this, including similar kinds of industrial users,” he said. “We saw it as an office or flex building for an industrial user, and that’s what it turned out to be.”

Founded in 1983 by Chairman Manohar Sood and Raminder “Reena” Sood, Reena makes health food, cosmetics, herbals and homeopathics, and also provides regulatory consulting services to the pharmaceutical, food, health food, cosmetic and consumer goods industries in Canada. It has separate divisions for manufacturing, laboratory testing and regulatory consulting, and specializes particularly in dietary supplements and over-the-counter products.

The company initially will bring its technology-based analytical testing lab, CAL Labs USA, to the West Seneca site, but officials hope to add the manufacturing division within six months, said CEO Christian Sood. Plans call for 10 full-time employees in the first year – skilled chemists and microbiologists – but will grow over time, with a target of at least 40 employees by the fifth year. The company, which worked with Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, will receive Excelsior Jobs tax credits from the state, based on employment levels.

Reena previously had a manufacturing facility at 90 Earhardt Drive in Amherst for about 10 years, but withdrew because it was growing too fast in Toronto to manage the U.S. operation, Sood said.

It’s now expanding back into the United States as it seeks to grow its U.S. business again, said Steve Blake, broker at CBRE in Buffalo, who worked with Reena.

The company already provides some international services to “some very large” U.S.-based global corporations, and “we’d like to take advantage of the opportunity for their domestic business,” Sood said. He cited the geographic proximity to Toronto and the tax incentives as the key factors in its decision.

“We feel that we have a solid business plan and this is a fantastic opportunity,” he said. “We’re looking forward to this U.S. venture and are excited about growing our venture in the U.S. and specifically in the Buffalo area. We know the area well, so we’re happy to work in that area. It’s familiar to us.”

The properties at 130 and 150 Empire include two warehouses of 37,340 and 19,500 square feet, respectively.

The first building, which used to be a 28,000-square-foot warehouse, was expanded and converted in the 1990s into a 37,000-square-foot medical building, which housed a Lifetime Health Medical Group clinic until it was closed and consolidated with another location on Gardenville Parkway two years ago, Schiller said.

Excellus built the smaller warehouse at 150 Empire for its operations group but decided to put that on the market late last year and lease back part of the building for its storage and facilities needs, he said.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com