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Ashton Potter aims to expand with new facility at Amherst site

A privately owned secure stamp and envelope printer is expanding its production and warehouse operations in Amherst, moving a facility that is now in leased space in Cheektowaga so it can better accommodate growth.

Ashton Potter Security Printers is seeking to build a 55,000-square-foot office, printing and storage facility on the rear portion of the 7.9-acre property at 10 Curtwright Drive.

That’s just behind its current 61,000-square-foot headquarters operation on the site at Curtwright and Wehrle Drive.

Plans call for the company to move out of its current leased space in a 45,000-square-foot facility on Broadway, owned by Benderson Development Co., and relocate to the new $3.2 million facility. The proposed 39-foot-tall, one-story building, on about 1.5 acres of the overall property, would include new parking for 127 vehicles and a delivery truck loading dock. It would have a cinder block base, with metal siding and a metal roof.

“It gives us some expansion in manufacturing and puts the two facilities right next door to each other, so we can have a lot more economies of scale with the operations right next to each other, and some expansion room,” said Ashton Potter President and CEO Barry Switzer.

The property is owned by Butch Kreuz’s Advantage Global Management, which has applied to the Amherst Planning Board for approval of the project at its June 18 meeting. Kreuz, who runs the separate Advantage Cos., bought the site two years ago from Advantage. The proposal, designed by C&S Engineers and Silvestri Architects, is also subject to standard environmental and archeological reviews. Kreuz said he is also seeking tax breaks in July from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.

If the project is approved, Lamparelli Construction Co. – which previously put an addition on the existing building 10 years ago – could start the work in the fall, and finish by next summer, Kreuz said. “We’re really excited about this project,” he said. “The town’s been great.”

The company prints secure postage stamps, tax stamps, secure labels, and envelopes, particularly for the U.S. Postal Service, but also for the pharmaceutical industry and other businesses that require brand protection. It also produces and manages supply-chain databases. Its Broadway facility is the largest secure stamped-envelope factory in North America, producing about 250 million envelopes every year. About 60 percent of them are stamped envelopes available for sale in post offices, while the rest are personalized envelopes that consumers and small businesses can order, through the Postal Service, with the stamp, personalized address and even logos already printed on them. Currently, those orders can be made by mail, telephone or the Postal Service website, but Switzer said the company does want to expand its sales avenues.

Ashton Potter used to have contracts to produce stamps for Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong but currently works mostly in the U.S. market, although it also makes stamps for Ireland. It handles more than half of all U.S. stamps, plus all envelopes and cards available through post offices, and Switzer said it “probably” makes one-fourth of all postage stamps in the world, since nearly half of the world’s mail is processed in the United States.

The company, which had been owned by Toronto-based MDC until 2007, is now owned by a private equity firm that Switzer would not identify. It currently employs 185 at the two facilities.