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Buffalo Material Handling seeks tax breaks for expansion

A Depew supplier of forklifts and other industrial equipment is hoping to nearly double the size of its Taylor Drive facility, but it wants tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to do it.

Buffalo Material Handling – owned and led by President Peter Tunkey – needs more room to handle its growth. It won a three-year contract with GM Tonawanda this year to service all of the auto plant's mobile equipment.

So it wants to build a 10,000-square foot addition to its 12,000-square-foot existing facility at 125 Taylor Drive. That will allow it to handle more staff and equipment, while also increasing efficiency. The company also wants to hire three more employees – at an average salary of $30,000 each – so it can service more trucks and increase the size of its own fleet of rental equipment.

But Tunkey – who bought the company in 2010 and is only its third owner in 65 years – said he "personally could not afford to expand or renovate the way we need to in order to be successful." So the company is asking the ECIDA for a package of sales, mortgage recording and property tax breaks for the $1.315 million project.

Otherwise, it won't go forward, he said in his ECIDA application.

"I would not be able to hire the staff needed as we would not have the physical space available," Tunkey said. "In spite of the demand for our services, we would not be able to take on additional shop work."

The project costs include $950,000 for construction, $250,000 for renovation, $65,000 for furniture and fixtures and $50,000 in professional "soft" costs. Financing includes $415,000 in equity and $900,000 in bank loans, as well as energy assistance from New York State Electric & Gas Corp.

Buffalo Material is asking for $6,750 in mortgage recording tax savings and $61,250 in sales tax breaks. It also is seeking property tax breaks – likely to be the largest part of the incentive package – but the IDA documents do not estimate the value of those subsidies.

The project has already received municipal approval, and is slated to start July 1 and finish by year-end.

Buffalo Material sells, services and rents forklifts, scissor lifts and industrial scrubbers, sells and installs pallet racking and docks, and provides training according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. Its clients include Rich Products, Tops Markets and Sonwil Distribution.

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