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IDA grants in-lieu tax break to Custom Laser

Custom Laser, a growing company in the Town of Lockport Industrial Park, was granted a five-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangement Thursday by the town Industrial Development Agency.

The 20-year-old company plans to expand into a building it just purchased next to its own in the park off Upper Mountain Road, near the Delphi Thermal and Interior plant.

Alan Hamilton, chairman of the IDA board, said the tax break on the new building is good for five years.

Custom Laser also will enjoy an exemption from sales on the materials and equipment it buys for the expansion and an exemption from mortgage recording tax on its new building.

The application to the IDA was made in the name of Custom Leasing, an entity set up to hold title to the 6,000-square-foot building.

Gary Brockman, co-owner of Custom Laser, said his company will invest between $50,000 and $100,000 in the expansion, depending on bids from contractors.

He said five jobs will be added within two years to the company's current work force of 24 full-timers and seven part-timers. Two of the new jobs will be created almost as soon as the expansion is complete.

Brockman, a City of Lockport resident, said he founded the company in his garage 20 years ago with a partner, Jack Tillotson of the Town of Lockport. Tillotson is still co-owner today.

Custom Laser leased space in the Diversified Manufacturing plant on Ohio Street until moving to the IDA park nine years ago. The town IDA gave the company a 15-year tax abatement on its original building.

Brockman said that when the firm moved, it had only four employees, but its growth since then has been impressive. The company is profitable and had gross revenues at $2 million last year, he said.

Custom Laser does contract work for a variety of customers, ranging from sign companies to fabrication shops and food service firms. It does laser cutting, welding and marking of various materials, hesaid.

The building for the expansion was the former home of Lock City Sprinkler, which defaulted on a mortgage with First Niagara Bank, Hamilton said. The bank foreclosed on the property and offered the building at auction this fall.

The Niagara County Legislature appropriated up to $180,000 from its contingency fund in October to bid on the building, which the Sheriff's Office eyed as an evidence-storage facility and a new headquarters for the county Drug Task Force. However, Brockman outbid the county at the auction, bidding $180,000. Full-time skilled employees at the company earn between $9 and $15 an hour, Brockman said. Part-time unskilled workers are paid $7 to $8 an hour.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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