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Ontario Knife Co. will formally break ground this afternoon on a $4.4 million expansion of its Franklinville facility, advancing the 125-year-old cutlery manufacturer’s investment in Cattaraugus County well into the future.

The expansion follows a five-year plan set forth by Elma-based parent company Servotronics Inc. to restructure its cutlery business through the consolidation of the Ontario Knife Co. facility.

Representatives from Servotronics, Ontario Knife Co. and state and county officials will be on hand in Franklinville this afternoon for the ground- breaking.

“This is a company that was looking to solidify its future in Franklinville,” Town Supervisor Michael Brisky said Wednesday. “They are making a significant investment in the local economy.”

Ontario Knife Co., which makes knives for both military and recreational users, employs about 55 people in its manufacturing plant. The expansion allows for the retention of all employees.

“Fifty-five employees in our small community is a significant deal,” Brisky said.

Highlighting the initiative is a 28,000-square-foot addition, which will allow the company to restructure its production process and move manufacturing to one floor. It is split between two floors now.

The expansion will also cover renovations to the existing plant and the investment in new machinery.

Ultimately, these additions will allow for an upgraded, streamlined manufacturing process so that the company can continue to make its fixed blades in increased quantities to be sold at more competitive prices.

“This year is the Ontario Knife Company’s 125th anniversary,” said Kenneth Trbovich, president and CEO. “We are proud of our legacy, and we launch this project to seize the initiative on our next 125 years.”

Ontario Knife Co. applied for and received aid in the form of county grants to fund the expansion, including a $416,000 New York State Community Development Block Grant from the Office of Community Renewal, a $300,000 Casino Funds Grant approved by the Cattaraugus County Legislature and a package of tax breaks from the County of Cattaraugus Industrial Development Agency.

Founded in 1889, Ontario Knife Co. originally opened in Ontario County before moving to Franklinville in 1902.

Franklinville Mayor Robert Breton, who also serves as the executive vice president and chief manufacturing officer of Ontario Knife Co., said the excitement within the community surrounding the expansion is unprecedented.

“I have been with Ontario Knife Co. for almost 40 years and this is the most exciting project of my tenure,” he said.

email: bschlager@buffnews.com