Medical technology firm Accumed Corp. is wrapping up its corporate relocation from Buffalo to North Carolina, as the 22-year-old company prepares to fully shut down its Buffalo factory next month and downsize its local presence to fewer than 10 employees.
The manufacturer of breathable fabric and other devices will vacate its current facility at 160 Bud-Mil Drive by the end of August, after completing its transfer of remaining production work and a few dozen jobs to its already-significant operations in the Dominican Republic, CEO Doug Constable said. That building, which it leased, will now be turned over to a new occupant.
The company already moved its corporate headquarters and another dozen executives to Mocksville, N.C., near Winston-Salem, after receiving more than $1 million in incentives from North Carolina, along with preferential financing on new equipment purchases. And Constable said it expects to employ 75 to 100 in the Tar Heel State “when we’re up and fully running.”
That will leave it with fewer than 10 “key employees” in Buffalo who “weren’t able to relocate” and are now moving into a new, smaller leased office on Walden Avenue, Constable said.
“We needed to expand the business,” Constable said. “North Carolina offered us some pretty good incentives to move it here, so we took advantage of that and relocated. I’ve operated businesses in North Carolina for many, many years, so I was familiar with doing business here, and it just made sense.”
However, that’s a big change for a company that was founded in 1994 and built in Western New York by Thomas Blaszczykiewicz based on the Breathe-O-Prene breathable fabric. Constable said officials had positive feelings toward Buffalo, but “it was very difficult to get people to move to Buffalo if they weren’t originally from there.”
“It’s a better place to recruit professional talent,” he said of North Carolina. Buffalo is “a beautiful city. We really enjoyed our time there. But we just struggled to get engineers and other professionals who weren’t familiar with the area to think that was where they wanted to relocate their family.”
The move has been in the works since late last year, and was originally supposed to have been completed in March, except for delays caused by delivery of new equipment. But its roots can be traced back to the acquisition in late 2014 of the former Accumed Innovative Technologies Inc. by MVC Private Equity Fund LP and Yukon Partners, as well as the gradual shift over time of most of the company’s manufacturing work to the Dominican Republic. As a result, an employment base that numbered several hundred in Western New York at one point had already dwindled to about 75.
Today, the company has about $100 million in annual sales, and employs nearly 1,700 overall, Constable said. It also uses a subcontractor in China and Taiwan. But the bulk of its operations are in Dominican Republic, where it employs 1,600. “We’ve grown a lot. The company has experienced tremendous growth,” Constable said, citing 40 percent annual expansion for the last few years.
Meanwhile, Accumed’s former space, totaling 38,868 square feet, will be occupied by Cleveland-based national freight delivery firm Lasership Inc., according to broker Eric Tudor of Tudor Collins Commercial Real Estate, who handled the leasing for the landlord. Lasership, a 30-year-old privately held trucking company with 40 offices in 12 states and more than 2,600 vehicles, acquired Buffalo-based Prestige Delivery Systems in 2014. Prestige had been based at 25 Boxwood Drive in Cheektowaga.