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Marlette National stops production Plating firm weighing options

Marlette National Corp., a Buffalo plating company with decades of history, has stopped production for now and is weighing its options, an executive said Tuesday.

"We're still here and we still have tenants [at its site] and we're doing some things in the plant," said vice president Michael Marlette.

The company, whose prime customers are in the heavy-truck industry, is still fulfilling previous orders to customers, but new business has sharply declined, Marlette said. It put its production on hiatus last Friday, when it had about 25 employees.

Marlette National does nickel/chrome plating on bumpers and exhaust pipes for products used on trucks made by companies including Volvo, Navistar and Freightliner.

The business was known as Marlette Plating until it made an acquisition in 1985 and altered its name. Its plant is on Rano Street, near Hertel Avenue and Tonawanda Street.

The company moved to Buffalo from Milwaukee in the 1920s. Marlette said the business is probably a century old, including the years it operated in Wisconsin. Over the years, its customer list has included such famous local automakers as Pierce-Arrow and Thomas Flyer.

Marlette said the plating company has been hit by a combination of unfavorable business conditions. Sales of new heavy-duty truck engines dropped off last year after tougher emissions standards were introduced.

Soaring diesel fuel prices and the credit crunch prompted some trucks to be taken off the road, he said. And its aftermarket business, which usually offsets a decline in sales of equipment for new vehicles, also has slumped.

Marlette said the pressures are not unique to the Buffalo company.

"It's an industry that has seen a lot of this," Marlette said. "As more and more of the parts are made overseas, the need for this sort of thing in this country has decreased."

Michael Marlette represents the fourth generation of the family business; a nephew of his is also active in the company.

He said he couldn't predict what will happen next. "We're evaluating everything," Marlette said. "But we're still here."

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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