A member of the Feldmeier family and an official within the company said Friday's groundbreaking at Riverside Industrial Park meant a dream come true for his family.
“It's always been our dream to grow in this valley region because of the loyal employment we have here,” said Colby Clark, operations manager and a member of the third-generation of Feldmeiers working in the family business.
Clark said it was also the final step in a two-step plan to bring the company back to its Little Falls roots. He said the first step was in 1997 when Feldmeier Equipment purchased a Little Falls location at 575 E. Mill St.
Clark said Friday the new facility — which will be the sixth location for the company — will at first employ up to 30 people, but anticipates it will eventually employ up to 80 people. He said the company hopes to have the facility opened by late February.
“Obviously, with the workload we have and the excitement we have out there, the sooner the better,” said Clark.
The company is undergoing a $7.2 million expansion by building a manufacturing facility at the site formerly owned by Lasalle Labs Manufacturing. They will invest $3.25 million in the construction of a 50,000 square foot building and $3.75 million in equipment. The project costs include $225,000 for land acquisition.
Empire State Development is supporting the expansion and upgrades with a total investment of $750,000 through the combination of a capital grant for $200,000 and Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits for $550,000, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.
The release stated both incentives are performance-based and tied to project completion and job creation commitments. The governor's office said ESD's assistance was necessary to keep the expansion in New York, as the Herkimer County location was specifically competing with sites in Iowa and Nevada. The governor's office said 190 existing jobs in New York were at risk if the project located out-of-state.
“The creation of this new facility and added investment in the company's existing local operations not only support the creation and retention of nearly 400 jobs, but it also furthers the commitment that this family-run company has made to New York State and our other industries, such as breweries and yogurt producers,” Cuomo said in the release.
“The reason why we grow is because our customers demand it,” said Robert Feldmeier, company president, before Friday's groundbreaking. “We have a love for the valley. We thank the employees at Feldmeier because without their hard work and dedication, this wouldn't have happened.”
State Sen. James Seward said it was great day for Feldmeier and for the Mohawk Valley.
“[Feldmeier's] roots are long, and staying here in the Mohawk Valley. And they're going to be even stronger because of today,” said Seward, R - Oneonta.
Page 2 of 2 - He continued, “It's a great part of our local economic development strategy: Take care of businesses that are here and help them to grow.”
Feldmeier family members and company representatives, along with city, county and state officials, lined up for the groundbreaking. Robert H. Feldmeier, who founded the company in 1952, shoveled the first-load of dirt at the site.
“Growing up in Little Falls, I have always considered it home,” he said in the release from the governor's office. “My father worked in this town, my business career started here. It is an important part of Feldmeier's history and future. We want to see it grow and prosper.”
Little Falls Mayor Robert Peters said it was a “team effort” to have Feldmeier expand in the city. Peters said because of the expansion, the city plans to make road repairs to where Feldmeier trucks will be traveling. The work is expected to start in a few weeks.
The mayor thanked several people for playing a role in the expansion, including the Feldmeiers, the city's Board of Public Works, Jim Palmer and Mary Ellen Kirsch with the city's Department of Public Works and former Mayor Ted Wind.
“We are delighted that Feldmeier has decided to not only stay, but expand here in Little Falls. This project will help drive our city's economy forward and attract more economic development and industry to the business park. The creation and retention of jobs will support our tax base, which is vital to keep our city growing,” said Peters.
The family-owned operation began in 1952 when Robert H. Feldmeier developed the world's first Triple Tube heat exchanger. Since then, a list of patented ideas led Feldmeier to emerge as an industry leader for stainless steel processing equipment. Today, the company is recognized as a global leader within the pharmaceutical, biotech, cosmetic, food and dairy industries with five facilities throughout the U.S.
In addition to constructing a 50,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Little Falls the company plans to upgrade machinery and equipment at their Syracuse headquarters and existing Little Falls facility as part of its expansion project.