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Armor-Box Corp. will announce a $1.8 million expansion of its North Buffalo plant today, a project that will protect more than 100 jobs.

President William Donley said the new investment will include the purchase of new equipment that will allow the company to increase its business in certain niche markets, including the production of multi-color display boxes.

The expansion also will include construction of an additional 12,000 square feet of warehouse space. Armor-Box currently operates out of a 100,000-square-foot plant at 1755 Elmwood Ave., south of Hertel Avenue.

Founded in 1960 by the late Richard W. Rupp, a prominent Buffalo businessman, Armor-Box grew from a two-man operation on Rano Street into a company that employs between 90 and 110 people, depending on seasonal fluctuations. It was purchased by local business leaders Anthony and Richard Gioia in 1988.

Armor-Box makes corrugated packaging, combining the various layers that are used to produce the boxes, printing them in up to three colors, then cutting them to vendors' specifications. The company currently serves about 200 clients, most of them based in Western New York.

"We've built our business on local manufacturers like Rich Products, Westwood and Mentholatum," said Donley, who joined Armor-Box four years ago.

At this juncture, the expansion is being privately financed; no applications for city, county or state incentives have been submitted.

Donley said the new equipment will be fully operational within 45 days. The company is buying a new press, material handling equipment and recycling equipment. The new warehouse space should be built by the end of the year. He said the expansion illustrates the owners' commitment to growing the company.

"If we make a buck here, they invest a buck back into the company. They sincerely believe in putting money back into the business," Donley said.

Armor-Box has seen its sales increase about 20 percent over two years and Donley projects that there will be an additional 20 percent increase over the next 12 months.

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