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McGard Inc., which has outgrown its plant in Buffalo, broke ground Monday for its new $8.8 million plant on California Road in the Town of Orchard Park. McGard, which makes wheel locks for Ford Motor Co. and Mercedes, plus security devices for government and corporate clients, is moving from its facility at 852 Kensington Ave.

Lewis McCauley, president of McGard, said the new plant will be ready for operation by April 1990. He said the Orchard Park plant, with 184,000 square feet of space, will be almost twice the size of the 96,000-square-foot Kensington Avenue building.

Durham McCauley, executive vice president, said the Kensington Avenue plant and its surroundings have become too limited. He said that the plant most likely will be sold, but added that there is a slight chance a contract will be reached with Ford that will allow the Buffalo building to remain open.

"Right now we're scattered across two buildings with a public street in the middle," Durham McCauley said. "For years we added on, but as a result the whole building is sort of hodge-podge. Another problem we have is parking.

"We decided we wanted enough land to take care of not only our immediate needs, but also for 10 years down the road. A few years ago we bought these 25 acres just as a safety valve without really knowing that the business curve was going to stay on the upswing," he added.

McGard has enjoyed a steady increase in business over the last five years, as car manufacturers began to offer more wheel assemblies and wheel locks became more in demand. About one-third of McGard's $20 million-plus sales are from a multiyear contract with Ford.

McGard employs 186 people now and would increase employment to 229 jobs within three years of the expansion, according to the company.

"There's going to be some increase in jobs, the engineers for example," Durham McCauley said. "The increase in employment on the floor will depend on the efficiency we're going to get."

He said McGard considered many towns in the Buffalo area but decided that Orchard Park had "the best of both worlds".

"It's a nice community, there's fantastic water pressure for the sprinkler systems and as you get farther into the outlying areas, things like that become a problem. The slight premium we pay in the property taxes is more than offset by the quality of services available," he said.

Dennis J. Mill, acting town supervisor for Orchard Park, said that a few years ago Orchard Park embarked upon a plan to bring more industrial and commercial businesses to the town.

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