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AREA INDUSTRIAL SUPPLIER GROWS DESPITE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN

Automation products distributor Hughes Industrial Products Inc. is involved with a growth industry.

As company President Rick Hughes likes to say, if you're in Western or Central New York and see a smokestack or a parking lot with 50 cars sitting in it, chances are the company's familiar with his firm.

The Clarence-based operation has seen its sales double every five years sinces its founding in 1960 by Hughes' father, Fred, and his partner, Stu Smith.

In 1990, the company will record worldwide sales in excess of $17 million, in electronic, hydraulic and pneumatic components and supplies.

A growing, successful company with offices throughout Upstate New York plus Erie, Pa., Hughes actually was founded when its chairman decided 30 years ago he didn't want to leave the Buffalo area with his employer.

"Dad had been general manager of the P.R. Mallory Co.'s Appliance Timer Switch Division in Warsaw for about 10 years," said Rick Hughes. "For about the second or third time, the company said it was going to move its operation, which at the time made about 99 percent of the timers for dishwashers and washing machines in the country, to Cincinnati. Dad and Stu Smith, for personal and business reasons, didn't want to move and left the firm."

Mallory changed its mind again and in fact didn't shut the Warsaw operation until early last year. But in 1960, Fred Hughes and Smith set up shop in Hughes' dining room, with his wife as accountant, Smith's wife as treasurer and Rick Hughes as the basement stock boy.

A move soon followed to more suitable facilities in Williamsville and, 15 years ago, headquarters, sales and a majority of warehousing shifted to 9685 Main St., Clarence.

About three months ago, the Clarence square footage was doubled, with the addition of 6,000 square feet of warehouse space.

"Business has been very good and we anticipate that continuing," Rick Hughes said. "As a distributor, we need capacity for inventory."

Growth in square footage has led to growth in personnel; Hughes has added three new people in the last three months. Rick Hughes said future expansion naturally depends on future increases in business.

"With a 250 percent increase in warehouse space, we'll fill it with something and we'll need more employees," Hughes said.

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