Local companies, Rand and Classic Brass, excited about the future
Every month I will be communicating with the public about all of the great things going on throughout Chautauqua County as they relate to economic development. This could include a discussion about specific projects of public interest that are underway or have been completed, where they are at, and if completed, how they are performing. It could also involve a discussion about initiatives being undertaken at various agencies or at the County level, including, but not limited to, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth, Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Development, Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation, the Workforce Development Board, the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, educational institutions, or at any one of the many agencies whose mission makes them a critical partner in economic development across the County.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, the County Executive and I (along with members of the CCIDA Team) met with Kurt Grimm, CEO of Rand Machine/Premier Machining, along with his team to discuss how things are going at the facility, ascertain whether they had any needs, and to tour the plant. Rand, which is located on Allen Street in Falconer, NY, has a talented, well-seasoned team with decades of experience and a practical approach to difficult problems in CNC (and conventional) machining, CAD/CAM, Mechanical Design/Engineering, Automated Systems Design, Failure Analysis for both Tool & Die, as well as Manufacturing Process Engineering & Development. A majority of their business is related to military applications, and they are VERY busy.
Since purchasing Rand’s assets in the fall of 2017 with assistance from the CCIDA, the Rand team has transformed the operations from an antiquated and less than desirable place to work, to a state-of-the-art facility, while vastly improving the company’s culture. Over this same period, employment at Rand has increased from 45 to 120 employees, and millions of dollars have been invested in new equipment. We were all amazed at the number of machines and the scale of their operations. What is most encouraging is that Rand has been expanding their operations and fully expects to continue to do so. More precisely, we are inspired by the fact that they are in the process of expanding their footprint (with assistance from the CCIDA and State) so they can purchase more sophisticated machines and hire even more people.
Clearly, Rand is well run and has not been negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis. If you drive by the facility, it is quite evident from the number and type of vehicles in the parking lot, Rand is busy and they pay well. And we’re grateful that we (CCIDA) had a part in helping them to get where they are and will continue to assist them as they grow and prosper.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, the County Executive and I (along with members of the CCIDA Team) met with Chris Creighton, CEO, and his team at Classic Brass. Classic Brass is located at Stoneman Circle in the Stoneman Industrial Park in Lakewood, where they produce high-end door and drawer hardware, primarily knobs and pulls. The company is operating with a talented, but aging, workforce, and is looking to hire more people as things are very busy there. Chris Creighton, through assistance from the CCIDA and State, was able to take a struggling company and transform it into one of the leading companies providing these high-end products in the world. Their hardware adorns the homes of the rich and famous. Classic Brass is knocking it out of the park, and is looking for talented people who want to work and want to be part of a strong team making livable wages.
CCIDA PPE Business Assistance Program
During the height of the COVID-19 crisis, the CCIDA committed to allocating $12,500 to assist businesses and others in purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE), and receive technical assistance as it pertains to what PPE to purchase and how to reconfigure their work space to protect their workers and customers. We then posed a challenge to the philanthropic community to match this 50/50 to create a $25,000 pot of grant funding to assist businesses and other institutions.
The fund allowed applicants to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and other materials as needed to comply with Governor’s workplace safety mandate, including thermometers, face masks, face shields, tape, barriers, and other implements to facilitate social distancing, and they were reimbursed for 50% of these costs up to a certain limit. The program also provided a consultant (Jamestown Community College) to help applicants to identify what they should do, in terms of the provision of PPE, the re-design of their workplace layout, the revision of schedules, etc., to protect their employees and customers and to comply with state mandates.
The program was made available to businesses, not-for-profits, agencies, and basically any entity that employs people or receives customers, large or small, in any sector of the economy. The fund, which was advertised in the local papers and social media, matched dollar for dollar the expenditures of the business in an amount not exceeding $1,000.
CCIDA funding was matched with funding received from the Gebbie Foundation, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, and the Jamestown Rotary Club, to whom we are very grateful.
At the conclusion of the program in September, thirty-two applicants received funding through this program, including the likes of Fieldbrook Foods, Rand, DFT Communications, Holiday Harbor Marina, Ultrapak, and many others.
The CCIDA feels privileged to have been part of this important and innovative initiative, and thanks the contributors. We are also grateful to Linda Burns, Business Development Manager for the CCIDA, who managed the program with the assistance of other CCIDA Staff.
Mark Geise is Deputy County Executive for Economic Development/CCIDA CEO.