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Niagara Blower lands $13.9 million natural gas project

Riding the explosion of the natural gas industry and a new $5.4 million Town of Tonawanda facility, Niagara Blower has enjoyed its first year under Sweden-based Alfa Laval.

Niagara Blower, a longtime maker of specialized industrial heat transfer and air conditioning systems, was acquired in June 2013 by Alfa Laval and will soon undertake its largest project since the deal. Alfa Laval announced Friday it has secured an order for an air cooler system valued at $13.9 million that will be manufactured in Niagara Blower’s newly renovated plant on Sawyer Avenue.

The unit is scheduled to be finished in 2015 and shipped in pieces for assembly at a port in Houston. There, it will be used for cooling and processing liquid natural gases like propane, ethane and butane while they are loaded onto tanker vessels and shipped overseas.

“It’s a pretty big job,” said Peter G. Demakos, Niagara Blower president since 2003. “But that’s just business as usual” for Alfa Laval.

Niagara Blower, in business since 1904, has benefitted from joining Alfa Laval a year ago. It has long manufactured products used in a variety of industries around the world, including oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and food and beverage.

When Alfa Laval made the acquisition, Niagara Blower ramped up a focus on products to condense natural gas, an important component to processing and shipping the gas mined from shale.

The most recent available figures, from 2012, pegged Niagara Blower’s annual sales at $67 million.

The company is in the process of moving from its longtime home on Ontario Street in Buffalo to a newly renovated, 110,000-square-foot facility on Sawyer Avenue, which will be fully completed in November. Locally, about 150 people work for Niagara Blower.

The expansion added 25 jobs. That number could continue to grow, as Niagara Blower received $800,000 in Excelsior Jobs program tax credits from Empire State Development, contingent upon job growth, as part of the relocation project. The Erie County Industrial Development Agency also approved $61,250 in sales tax breaks for the company.

Alfa Laval, which reported about $4.4 billion in 2013 sales, employs about 17,500 worldwide.

Its American headquarters are in Richmond, Va., with 16 facilities spread across the United States. Internationally, the company has customers in 100 countries.