A reshuffling of refrigerated warehouse space in Cheektowaga and West Seneca involving Tops Markets and Rich Products could leave as many as 64 Allied Frozen Storage workers without jobs by late July if they are not rehired by Tops.
The Allied workers at 5000 North America Drive in West Seneca are being dislocated because Amherst-based Tops plans to take over the entire facility, beginning in August. Tops is relocating from the logistics company’s smaller facility at 100 Allied Drive in Cheektowaga, which is now too small for its current needs.
“The location of our facilities and our specific frozen warehousing capabilities are a perfect fit for the strong business footprint that Tops currently has in Western New York and across the northeastern U.S.,” Allied President and CEO Drew Blum and Chief Operating Officer Stephen Kincanon said in a memo to employees. “Our business model also aligns very closely with Tops’ future growth strategies.”
Buffalo-based Rich Products had been using the West Seneca facility to house its Northeast inventory, so Allied had planned to shift that business back to the Cheektowaga site. But Rich’s notified Allied this month that the other site isn’t large enough for its frozen foods needs, and would be seeking out a different storage company after more than 20 years. That will leave the 100 Allied Drive facility vacant, while the West Seneca site is no longer under Allied’s operation, putting those employees out of work.
According to the memo, Tops agreed to interview all Allied employees who won’t be relocating to another Allied facility, and will hold an “open house” by the end of March, but there is no guarantee of a job.
However, Allied executives noted that forthcoming retirements and subsequent job openings “will coincide with the Rich’s transition out of the West Seneca facility,” potentially alleviating some of the impact.
Even so, Allied notified the state Department of Labor of the planned closing and layoffs at the West Seneca plant between April 1 and July 31.
“We know that this news will cause uncertainty with regards to jobs at our West Seneca facility,” Blum and Kincanon wrote. “It’s too soon to identify which positions will transition to where, as a result of the upcoming changes. What we do know is that we are committed to working as hard as we can to secure an existing or new employment opportunity for everyone that currently works at our West Seneca facility.
“While this decision was clearly the right move for our business, it was still a difficult one to make, especially given the potential impact it would have on Rich Products, and therefore our employees that support the Rich’s business. We understand fully Rich’s decision and sincerely appreciate the long-term relationship they’ve forged with us. … We will continue to keep our lines of communication open with Rich’s in the hopes that we may be able to service their needs again … in the future.”
Meanwhile, Allied is trying to find another customer or tenant to occupy the Cheektowaga facility. “We are currently working to attract new business for our 100 Allied Drive facility,” the memo said. “While we’re only in the early stages of this effort, we are pleased with the response we’ve received so far from potential new customers.”
The 24-hour West Seneca operation includes 6.1 million cubic feet of single-story, temperature-controlled warehouse space and a computer-controlled ammonia refrigerated system. The former Atlas Cold Storage facility includes a 50-foot refrigerated dock, with 32 loading doors.
The Allied Drive facility has a 2.43 million-cubic-foot temperature-controlled warehouse, with temperatures ranging from minus 20 to 50 degrees, with 18 fully enclosed loading doors. The company also has 4.7 million cubic feet of warehouse and refrigeration space in a single-story panel warehouse at 2501 Broadway in Cheektowaga, which is not affected.
Founded in 1983 and owned by employees since 2006, Allied owns and operates more than 35 million cubic feet of frozen, chilled and dry warehouse space in Western New York, with other operations in Brockport and Mount Morris.