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WEHLE ELECTRIC'S PARENT FIRM ACQUIRED BY COMPANY IN PARIS

The name has changed but the faces remain the same at Wehle Electric, one of the area's leading electric supply distributors.

The company now operates as Rexel after being acquired by a Paris-based corporation. None of Wehle's 60 local employees were laid off in the acquisition, and Ralph Leffler continues to serve as area manager, according to company officials.

Rexel recently acquired Westburne, which was the Montreal-based parent company of Wehle Electric.

The French company has changed the Wehle Electric name, and the trademark red whale logo will be shelved. Rexel is the world's largest electrical supply company with 1,900 branches in 32 countries.

"The big change in Buffalo is that the Wehle name and the big, red whale will go away," said Jim Tallerico, marketing manager for Rexel's office at 475 Ellicott Street in Buffalo.

The company operated under the Wehle name for more than 75 years. Wehle was established in Binghamton in 1923 and soon expanded into Buffalo and other upstate markets.

After Westburne acquired Wehle in 1990, it retained the Wehle name and opened new offices in Syracuse, Albany and several other New York markets.

Westburne agreed to be acquired by Rexel for $987 million in Canadian cash. The deal made Rexel the leading electrical supply distributor in Canada and third in the U.S.

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