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ARIA WIRELESS, GLB ELECTRONICS IN WEST SENECA MERGE

Aria Wireless Systems Inc., a Cheektowaga wireless data transmission firm, has merged with a West Seneca electronics company and its president is optimistic the alliance will boost sales and employment in the coming year.

Aria-GLB Wireless Data Inc. also closed on a $100,000 loan this week that was approved by the Buffalo and Erie County Regional Development Corp. The not-for-profit entity is tied to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and provides assistance to growth-oriented manufacturing companies.

Gary A. Stornelli, Aria-GLB's president and chief executive officer, said the alliance with the former GLB Electronics has enhanced the company's marketing ability. He forecasted that sales in the coming year could approach $4.5 million, doubling sales that were posted by the two entities in 1999.

He said three new contracts have already helped to strengthen the once-struggling company on strong ground. Aria-GLB is working with the Las Vegas Taxi Authority on an integrated vehicle-location and dispatching system. "We have the capability of tracking 800 cabs at a time. We'll be able to pinpoint their exact locations, even letting dispatchers know what side of the street they're on," Stornelli said.

The high-tech system will also read meter data and even have seat sensors that will let dispatchers know how many passengers are riding in vehicles.

The company has also is working on a $1.6 million communications network for the Alaskan Railroad Corp. The system will link all trains and service vehicles along 500 miles of track to a state-of-the-art radio network.

Stornelli said Aria-GLB also recently signed a contract with a company in Argentina to design a stolen-vehicle location system.

"I see positive things in the future," said Stornelli. "Well probably add between six and 10 people to our payroll over the next couple years."

The company currently employs about 30. It was a different picture for Aria several years ago. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1996 and shut down for a brief period. Operations resumed in late 1996 after it received an infusion of funding from a New York City firm that specialized in investing in bankrupt companies and from Rand Capital Corp., a Buffalo-based venture capital company. Rand Capital recently invested another $100,000 in Aria-GLB, according to Rand President Allen F. "Pete" Grum.

"For the first time, things are about to click out there," Grum said of Aria-GLB. "This new synergy is helping them to turn the corner."

GLB has also had its share of financial problems in the past. Earlier this year, its manufacturing operation filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But Grum said GLB's strong sales and marketing divisions complement Aria's focus on product development, manufacturing, assembly and quality control. He said the merger also enables the company to market a more diversified product line to an array of industries, including the mining and oil sectors.

In the past, Aria has focused largely on providing wireless data communication systems that are used by customers in the online transactions-processing industry.

Aria-GLB is a publicly-traded company with the ticker symbol AWSI. It's shares were selling for 35 cents on Thursday and were selling for as high as 52 cents over the past 12 months.

Alfred D. Culliton, the ECIDA's chief lending officer, said the $100,000 loan that was closed this week is the third loan the agency has approved for the company. Last year, the RDC authorized a $120,00 loan to Aria. The Niagara Region Venture Fund, another ECIDA lending and investment entity, also approved a $120,000 loan.

Culliton said the Aria-GLB's technology offers "enormous potential" for growth. "There aren't a lot of other companies out there with this kind of patented technology," he said. "Aria has had a pretty rocky history, but positive things have finally started to happen."

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