Fourteen months after longtime wholesale distributor Will Foods shuttered its doors on the East Side of Buffalo, its sprawling old one-story complex on William Street has a new owner.
An entity called William Newell Street, registered to the address of logistics firm Speed Global Services, acquired the 2.84-acre site from Will Poultry Co. and an entity called 27-35 Newell. The purchase price for the deal, which closed on Tuesday, was $1.1 million.
The properties at 1075 William, 248 Lewis St., and 27-35 Newell St. include a 57,808-square-foot industrial food-processing building with 22-foot ceilings, and vacant land where a former city public school once stood.
Speed Global provides trucking and international air and ocean freight transportation to a variety of customers, along with offering warehousing, fulfillment, cross-border and foreign-trade zone services. It currently operates from a 10.01-acre site at 2299 Kenmore Ave. in Buffalo, but also has other facilities in Thorold, Ont., and Linden, N.J.
The company was formed by Italian immigrant Carmelo Savarino, who arrived in Buffalo in 1913 and began using extra room in his grocery truck to pick up and deliver goods for other businesses. He formalized his company, Carmelo Savarino & Sons Trucking, in 1948, shifting from the grocery business to trucking with help from his sons.
The company initially covered the Buffalo and Niagara Falls area with two trucks, but as it expanded, Savarino changed the name to Speed Motor Express. He retired in 1952, turning the business over to his two sons. Current President Carl Savarino, grandson of the founder, could not be reached to comment.
Founded in 1926, the former Will Poultry began as a chicken slaughterhouse, maintaining that business until it expanded into food distribution in 1957. The company served most of New York State along with parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and sold about 8,000 items to clients, including restaurants, hotels and educational centers.
Former owner Donald E. Will, son of the founder, sold the business to a group of local investors in late 2013, and its new ownership invested more than $1 million in improvements to its plant with hopes for growth.
It was the region's oldest food distributor when it announced suddenly in February 2017 that it would close a month later and lay off its staff because of economic challenges. The company's inventory of food and equipment was sold at public auction.