Arm­strong Pumps mulls $18 mil­lion ex­pan­sion of North Ton­awanda plant

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Thomas J. Pro­haska

Arm­strong Pumps, which em­ploys about 200 peo­ple at its North Ton­awanda fac­tory, is plan­ning to buy ad­ja­cent city-owned land to ex­pand its plant.

City At­tor­ney Luke A. Brown wrote in a memo to the Com­mon Coun­cil last week that he learned dur­ing talks with Arm­strong that the com­pany is plan­ning an $18 mil­lion ex­pan­sion.

Robert Di­et­rich, Arm­strong’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, wouldn’t con­firm the value of the in­vest­ment, but he did con­firm that the com­pany is plan­ning one.

“It’s cor­rect that we are look­ing at mod­ern­iz­ing our fa­cil­ity,” Di­et­rich said in a tele­phone in­ter­view from the Toronto cor­po­rate head­quar­ters of the par­ent com­pany, Arm­strong Fluid Tech­nolo­gies. “This is still in the pre­lim­i­nary stages,” Di­et­rich said.

The North Ton­awanda plant is Arm­strong’s only U.S. fa­cil­ity. Since 1969, it has op­er­ated in an old plant on East Av­enue that for­merly housed Buf­falo Bolt Co. and later Roblin Steel Co.

There has been talk of ex­pand­ing Arm­strong’s plant into the Buf­falo Bolt In­dus­trial Park since 1992, but in large part be­cause of en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns – the ex­pan­sion site is a for­mer brown­field – no ac­tion has been taken.

“If we go ahead with that, it’s a ma­jor in­vest­ment,” Di­et­rich said. “We’re hop­ing we can find a way to go for­ward.”

In June 2013, the city signed a con­tract to sell three va­cant lots, to­tal­ing 8.31 acres, on the for­mer Buf­falo Bolt prop­erty on Oliver Street to Arm­strong for $40,000, but the com­pany has never closed the deal.

Brown’s memo said the open-ended con­tract came “with­out a firm clos­ing date or the abil­ity for the city to ter­mi­nate that con­tract with­out ex­ten­sive lit­i­ga­tion.”

Tues­day, Brown will ask the Coun­cil to vote on amend­ing the con­tract to give Arm­strong un­til Feb. 15 to close the pur­chase. If the com­pany doesn’t do so, it would have to pay the city a $5,000 penalty, and the sale of the land would be can­celed. Arm­strong al­ready has agreed to the amend­ments, though it has not com­mit­ted to the pur­chase.

In 2011, 23 acres of the old Buf­falo Bolt prop­erty was con­verted into an in­dus­trial park, fol­low­ing a $3.4 mil­lion brown­field cleanup.

Other com­pa­nies, such as Tay­lor De­vices and Aqua­sol, bought lots in the Buf­falo Bolt In­dus­trial Park, but Arm­strong held off un­til 2013.

The con­tract amend­ments say Feb. 15 would be the dead­line for Arm­strong to close the pur­chase and to sub­mit a zon­ing ap­pli­ca­tion.

The com­pany makes high-tech pumps for heat­ing and cool­ing equip­ment.

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