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3 big orders help spur Graham Corp. expansion plans

Graham Corp. has received three orders for surface condensers, worth a total of $7.5 million, from customers in the United States and Saudi Arabia, the Batavia manufacturer said.

Two of the orders will be used in chemical and petrochemical plants along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The third is for an oil refinery expansion project in Saudi Arabia. The condensers are expected to ship either late next year or during the first three months of 2015.

With both its sales and profits on the upswing, Graham is moving forward with plans to expand the capacity of its Batavia plant through a $5.5 million project that will renovate an older portion of its complex that no longer is used for production.

“It’s a nice way to get some incremental capacity,” said Jeffrey Glajch, Graham’s chief financial officer.

The project, which is expected to be completed by late spring or early summer of next year, is expected to lead to a 10 percent increase in Graham’s Batavia work force over the next three years. Graham has said it expects to hire 30 new workers as a result of the project, including 15 to 20 by the end of next year. Graham currently has about 310 workers at its Batavia plant.

Demand for the condensers and the other heat transfer and vacuum equipment that Graham makes has picked up as the economy has improved, especially for projects in the chemical and oil refining industries. That contributed to a surge that saw Graham’s profits triple and its sales jump by 25 percent during the quarter that ended in June. Graham’s new order bookings also jumped by 66 percent during the quarter.

“We’re pretty encouraged by what we see,” Glajch said.

The company’s stock closed up 81 cents, or 2.25 percent, to $35.26 on Tuesday. It’s 52-week range is $16.45 to $38.96.

The expansion project will renovate the original factory space, located in a building at the corner of Harvester Avenue and Howard Street. “We’re pretty much gutting that building and putting additional production equipment in there,” Glajch said.

The company also is constructing a 12,439-square-foot addition along Harvester Avenue, between that building and its current production complex on Florence Street. It also is planning a 3,800-square-foot building on the Florence Street campus that will be used to do X-ray inspections of welds done during the production process.

The additional capacity will reduce Graham’s need to rely on subcontractors during times of peak demand, and will also give the company the opportunity to take on additional work as a subcontractor for other clients during times when Graham does not need all of the capacity for its own sales, Glajch said.

The company last month received sales and property tax breaks totalling $483,396 from the Genesee County Economic Development Center.