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116 to lose jobs as Ohio firm closes plant in North Tonawanda

An Ohio technology manufacturer is closing its North Tonawanda plant, laying off 116 workers as it seeks to cut costs and operate more efficiently.

Swagelok Biopharm Services Co. is relocating the facility's operations to its parent company's headquarters in Solon, outside Cleveland, by the second quarter of next year, according to a company press release.

Consolidation of production operations will begin immediately and continue in phases through April.

The company will keep a sales office in the greater Buffalo area, although an exact location was not provided.

About 28 of the plant's 116 employees will lose jobs immediately, with the rest to follow over time.

All employees will be offered a comparable position in Ohio along with relocation support, or they will get severance and outplacement assistance if they choose not to move, Kevin O'Brien, director of Swagelok Biopharm Services, said in the press release.

The Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and other state and local officials tried to work with the company for a couple of years to entice them to stay, even offering an incentive package if they would stay and grow a little. But BNE president Thomas Kucharski said the company did not appear willing to cooperate.

"The state and our local partners bent over backwards to try and accommodate their every need," Kucharski said. "Towards the end of the process, they were simply not returning phone calls and were not being responsive to letters, e-mails and phone calls. We took a great shot at this one, and it just didn't work out."

Swagelok Biopharm Services, which caters to pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, food, beverage, and dairy product makers, is a subsidiary of Swagelok Co. The parent makes fluid system component technologies for research, instrumention, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, power, petrochemical and semiconductor industries.

Founded in 1947 in Cleveland as a maker of tube fittings, Swagelok today employs 3,000 in 25 manufacturing, research, technical support and distribution facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. It also has 200 sales and service centers in 54 countries on six continents. Last year, it reported sales of $1 billion.

However, it has been consolidating a number of facilities and logistics operations since 1998 to become more efficient and adjust to changing market demands.

The company has been in Western New York since 2000, when it acquired Jensen Fittings Corp. of North Tonawanda. The plant on Goundry Street, near the Tonawanda Creek, makes stainless steel fittings for the biopharmaceutical market.

O'Brien, Swagelok spokeswoman Fran Dacek, and other company officials could not be reached for comment.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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