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Cheektowaga OKs Derrick growth

Derrick Corp., which manufactures mining and offshore oil-drilling equipment, won Town Board approval Tuesday to build an addition to its Cheektowaga factory.

The expansion, planned for this year, could lead to 50 or more new jobs next year.

"We have a very good work force here," said Frank R. Knuth, chief financial officer for the company on Duke Road.

Sales, mostly abroad, have been going so well that the 60-year-old company needs more space for its manufacturing of screens for sorting iron ore particles by size and equipment that separates mud and water from columns of dirt removed when deep holes are drilled for offshore oil wells.

"It's really the increase in global demand for energy and minerals," Knuth said of the expansion. "We export a significant amount."

Most of Derrick's clients are foreign, in locations such as China, India, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and South America.

To prepare to build onto its existing plant, Derrick bought adjacent property that was once the Walden Dodge auto dealership, zoned for motor services. At its meeting Tuesday, the Cheektowaga board voted unanimously to reclassify the area for light manufacturing to match the rest of Derrick's Duke Road facility.

"You've been a good corporate citizen," said Stanley J. Kaznowski III, a board member who serves as liaison to the Planning Board and Environmental Review Committee.

Council Member Charles C. Markel agreed. "It's nice that you are staying in Cheektowaga," he said. "So many companies leave."

Knuth said the company hopes to complete the 125,000-square-foot expansion by the end of this year. That timing should allow Derrick to add to its Western New York staff of 500 by 10 to 15 percent, he said.

The new addition will face Walden Avenue and have a facade of precast concrete, like a Walmart, to better fit into the retail streetscape, said Douglas M. Scheid, the architect.

Kaznowski said he worked to speed up the approval. He suggested that the public hearing and the vote be held Tuesday instead of at separate meetings. It was appropriate, he said, because the addition will be built in what is already a commercial district, and it will not affect a residential neighborhood with lighting or noise.

e-mail: mkearns@buffnews.com

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