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Dunkirk Radiator Corp., separated at birth from a related heating-equipment maker in Central New York, will reunite with Utica Cos. after 71 years, the companies announced Thursday.

"We'll have stronger research-and-development to develop new products," Dunkirk Radiator president Thomas Reed said. The combined company will also look for acquisition targets, he added.

Earle Reed, Thomas's grandfather, founded both companies in 1928, backed by separate groups of investors. But over the years, the distinctions between the companies' markets has declined -- both Dunkirk and Utica make boilers for home heating systems.

The merger, terms of which weren't disclosed, won't affect the company's 130 jobs at its plant on Middle Road in Dunkirk, Reed said. Although some tasks may shift between Utica and Dunkirk, there are no plans to close either facility, he said.

The name of the new company, and who will run it, are yet to be determined, Reed said. The president of Utica Cos. is Tim Reed, also a grandson of the founder and Thomas Reed's cousin.

The merged entity will become the third-largest manufacturer and distributor of boilers in North America, the company said. The companies do not disclose sales and profits.

Dunkirk Radiator's boilers are sold mainly to the replacement market in the Northeast, Thomas Reed said. The company also makes boilers sold under the Lennox and Carrier brands.

Dunkirk Radiator is one of the city's top 10 private employers, Mayor Robert Kesicki said.

Workers learned of the pending merger on Wednesday, said Robert Test, chairman of 67-member United Steelworkers of American unit at Dunkirk Radiator. Another USW unit employs about 30 people.

Although there may be minor changes, the company has told the steelworkers that overall employment levels will remain the same, he said.

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