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North Tonawanda's Ascension Sheet and Metal Fabrication Inc. is one of the first U.S. manufacturers to receive certification to export boilers and other pressure vessels to the People's Republic of China.

Jack Kopczynski, president of Ascension, said the firm has met the so-called "China code" standards of quality and safety for its pressurized metal containers.

"As of Oct. 1 we were licensed by the Chinese government to export and sell our products in China," he said.

Kopczynski said Ascension is one of only a handful of American companies certified under China's new import commodity safety and quality licensing system.

Kopczynski said the certification bodes well for the future of the North Tonawanda manufacturer and its 60 employees, and opens the so-called Pacific Rim to business by Ascension.

"We project it will mean a 15 to 20 percent increase in our business," he said.

Ascension uses lasers and other state-of-the-art equipment to design and fabricate all sizes of heavy metal pressurized vessels, heat exchangers and other equipment for various industries, including automotive aerospace, petro-chemical and natural gas.

Ascension is a subcontractor for such Western New York firms as Praxair Inc., Cooper Industries, and Moog Inc.

Ascension was founded 23 years ago by John F. Kopczynski, Jack Kopczynski's father and a former mayor of North Tonawanda.

The firm now has three plants totaling 85,000 square feet in three North Tonawanda locations, two on Erie Avenue and one on Sweeney Street.

China's stringent new safety standards and regulations stem from a high incidence of accidents involving boilers and pressure containers in China.

Delegations from the Chinese government visited Ascension on inspection tours twice last spring in the course of approving the North Tonawanda firm as a licensed manufacturer.