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March 27, 2012 - 9:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, UMMC.

Press release:

United Memorial Medical Center is pleased to announce that it has received $500,000 in NYS Economic Development funding. Five years ago, United Memorial began a multi-phased project to rehabilitate the former St. Jerome Hospital building, which is located at 16 Bank Street in the heart of Downtown Batavia.

The first phase renovated the ground floor to create an outpatient diagnostic center along with offices for primary care and occupational medicine services. The second phase addressed the upper floors and created 37 housing units for seniors 55 years of age or older earning less than 50 percent of the area median income. Several of the units contain features to assist those with mobility, hearing or visual impairments.

At the beginning of the second phase of the project, New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senator Mary Lou Rath and then County Legislator Mike Ranzenhofer announced $500,000 in NYS Economic Development Assistance funding to assist with the redevelopment.

At that time, United Memorial’s President and CEO Mark C. Schoell stated, “The support from the State Senate will help us reinvigorate an important area of Downtown Batavia and re-purpose a vacant structure so that it once again serves the residents of Genesee County by providing the necessary elements of employment, housing and access to health care.” 

The adaptive reuse of the building was completed in November 2010; however the NYS Economic Development Assistance funding had not been received. United Memorial solicited help from the 61st District, New York State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer’s office.

“Senator Ranzenhofer has been diligent in assisting the hospital access the funds promised in 2008,” Schoell said. “The Jerome Center Project is an exemplary illustration of cooperation between government and the private sector to preserve an historic property and provide important services to the community. We greatly appreciate Senator Ranzenhofer’s dedication and commitment to healthcare, housing for our vulnerable population and economic growth.”

Senator Ranzenhofer said "Mark and I have been working closely together for many months to ensure that United Memorial received the funding it had been promised in 2008 for the Jerome Center Project. As a result of our collaborative efforts, we were able to push the funding part of this project across the finish line.

"The Jerome Center Project has had a positive impact -- particularly, the many jobs it has created and the services the site now offers to the community. I hope that the project serves as a paradigm to encourage both organizations and individuals in the community to contact me when encountering a state-related issue."

The Jerome Center currently houses a comprehensive diagnostic center offering medical imaging and laboratory specimen collection; the Corporate Health Center for occupational medicine services; Batavia Family and Pediatric Care; Surgical Associates; Hope Haven, the only secure inpatient chemical dependency rehabilitation unit in the GLOW region; and the fully occupied Jerome Senior Apartments.

The site also hosts a gift shop, refreshment kiosk and cafeteria. Next month an Urgent Care Center will open in the Jerome Center to provide an affordable and timely alternative to emergency room care for non-life threatening illnesses and injuries.

March 23, 2012 - 5:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Project Wave, PepsiCo.

The picture came a bit clearer today at the annual Genesee County Economic Development Center luncheon on how the agency landed a $206 million joint-venture Greek yogurt plant for Batavia.

Mark Koenig, director of engineering and technology at the PepsiCo Global Nutrition Group, said while there were a few reasons Pepsi and the Theo Muller Group picked the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park for Project Wave, a key was getting site-grading permits within 15 days.

Koenig, who heads up similar projects for Pepsi all over the world, lost a bet with Chris Suozzi, VP of Business Development for GCEDC.

"I bet him my house, my wife and my salary that he couldn't get us permitted in 15 days," Koenig said. "I've never seen a greenfield site get permitted in 15 days. I said, 'there's no way.'"

He added, "This team delivered."

The 15-day permitting process allowed Wave Holding LLC to fast-track its development plans, which Suozzi agreed after the meeting was absolutely critical in bringing the project to Batavia.

Without the 15-day permitting, Pepsi and Muller would have been looking at a 30-month process to get its new Greek yogurt products to market. The current timeline is 18 months, all because Town of Batavia officials were able to move the permitting process along quickly.

Earlier this week, GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde told county legislators that Souzzi was instrumental in getting Batavia from the B-list for the project to the final four possible sites.

Koenig also said of critical importance to Pepsi and Muller was the world-class dairy industry in Western New York.

"This is an ag area that is the best in class and that's why we're here," Koenig said. "You have a good milk supply and your milk is the best in its class."

It also helps that from Batavia, Wave Holding can easily reach a third of the potential market in the U.S. for its new Greek yogurt.

Pepsi partnered with Germany-based Muller, Koenig said, because Muller has proprietary recipes and world-class technology for producing yogurt.

The incentive package put together by NYS and GCEDC was also important, Koenig said, but Pepsi was also impressed by the warm welcome the company has received from the community.

"The community support has been fantastic," Koenig said. "All signs say this is going to be a success with the community for years to come and in future growth."

Top: Koenig; bottom, Hanno Lehmann, a senior project manager from the Muller Group.

March 23, 2012 - 2:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, graham corp..

Press release:

Batavia-based Graham Corp. -- a designer and manufacturer of critical equipment for the oil refining, petrochemical and power industries, including the supply of components and raw materials to nuclear energy facilities -- announced this week that it has been awarded $9.5 million in orders for nuclear energy facilities and an oil sands upgrader.

The two orders received from Westinghouse Electric Company were awarded to Graham’s wholly owned subsidiary Energy Steel, which will supply structural supports and assemblies for two nuclear power plant sites in the Southeastern United States where four AP1000® pressurized water reactor units are under construction. The equipment is planned to be delivered throughout fiscal years 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The second order is for replacement parts for an ejector system originally supplied by Graham that is operating at an oil sands upgrader in Alberta, Canada. The parts are planned to be delivered in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013.

James R. Lines, Graham’s president and chief executive officer, commented, “We believe that our attention to detail, the high quality of our products, our engaged and responsive customer service and our demonstrated capability to execute complex orders were all critical in our selection as a Westinghouse AP1000 supplier. We consider the orders awarded to us over the last two quarters for the new nuclear energy facilities under construction in the Southeastern United States to be an affirmation both of our reputation for consistently delivering high quality products as well as our exceptional customer service.

“We believe our recent order activity is a solid indication that customers are becoming more likely to place orders. Bidding activity continues to be strong, and although we cannot predict when such activity will convert to orders, we have become more optimistic in the recovery of our markets.”

March 22, 2012 - 3:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, business, chamber of commerce.

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a nine-day familiarization tour of China Oct. 22-30.

This is your chance to cross off a few items from your secret bucket list! Walk across the Great Wall of China and Tian An Men Square. Visit the seven story leaning Yan yan Pagoda at Tiger Hill, which pre-dates the leaning tower of Pisa. Take a walk along the famous Bund Area in Shanghai.

Similar to our successful yearly trips since 2007, the chamber is offering the community the unique opportunity to travel to China for the low price of $2,199. Price includes air fare (from JFK), bus to/from JFK, hotel stays, three meals a day, bus tours (with guides), admission to tourist spots, and airport taxes throughout the trip.

Of professional interest, this trip will present opportunities to learn a great deal about how the Chinese business system operates. The chamber believes this trip to be an exceptional value.

For more details, call Melissa at the chamber at 343-7440, ext. 27, and sign up to attend the informational meeting. It will be held at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 19 at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, located at 210 E. Main St. in the City of Batavia.

Details on the trip can also be found at

March 22, 2012 - 8:59am

Executives from PepsiCo and the Muller Group will be keynote speakers March 23 at the Genesee County Economic Development Center's annual meeting at the college.

The two companies are behind Project Wave, the $206 million yogurt plant being built at Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Mark Koenig, director of engineering and technology at the PepsiCo Global Nutrition Group -- who was in town when grading started in November although Pepsi's involvement was still officially a secret -- will be joined for a keynote presentation by Hanno Lehmann, a senior project manager from the Mueller Group.

Wave Holding, LLC -- the official name of the joint venture -- is expected to employ nearly 200 people in the near term and perhaps as many as 600 people if the new line of Greek yogurt is as successful as Pepsi and Muller project.

The new joint venture is receiving more than $11 million in tax abatements to build the plant in Batavia, which was initially not even a top-tier choice in the site selection process.

Also speaking at the event will be Rep. Kathy Hochul, State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and County Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock.

GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde will make a presentation on some of the agency's 2011 highlights.

The luncheon is from noon until 1:30 p.m., March 23, at Genesee Community College. Tickets are $15 or $20 at the door. For reservation and tickets in advance, call 343-4866.

March 22, 2012 - 12:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC.

In a very short time, Genesee County has become a big player in the global agricultural community, Jim Vincent told the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday. He's vice chairman of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board of Directors.

Vincent commented little during the half-hour meeting in which CEO Steve Hyde provided a quarterly review for members of the county legislature. But he did note that with Alpina building here, followed by Pepsi/Theo Muller and now Bonduelle buying food processing plants in Oakfield and Bergen from Allen's Foods, Genesee County's place in the ag community has been transformed.

Hyde pointed out that the Bonduelle purchase probably saved more than 250 jobs in Genesee County.

Allen's may have been on the verge of closing the plants if they hadn't been sold, Hyde indicated.

While GCEDC wasn't directly involved in the purchase, officials have been speaking with Bonduelle executives and something may be in the works to help the company grow locally.

The four plants purchased by Bonduelle are the first production facilities owned by the France-based company in the United States.

Members of the committee and other legislators at the meeting made few comments and asked few questions.

Hyde was able to point to other successes for GCEDC and its business development partners, such as Java Equipment planning a location in Batavia and Premier Credit opening a phone room on Mill Street.

Hyde said Premier initially planned on 50 jobs -- which pay $12 an hour plus incentives -- but may soon add another 50 positions.

VP of Business Development Chris Suozzi deserves a lot of credit for bringing both Premier and Pepsi to town, Hyde said.

According to Hyde, when GCEDC first learned of Pepsi's plans, the Genesee County Agri-Business Park was only on the B-list.

But Souzi started working his contacts and managed to convince Pepsi officials to make a site visit.

"After the site visit, we went from the B-list to the A-list, from one of 16, to one of the final four, and then being very fortunate to land this project," Hyde said.

Hyde also gave credit to Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer for giving a "yeoman's effort" on behalf the STAMP project in Alabama. GCEDC needs to secure $18 million in grants and Ranzenhofer has been instrumental in arranging key meetings with Senate leaders and lining up support for legislation that might make it possible.

Vincent told legislators that for every dollar the county government invests in the GCEDC, a total of $18.60 is returned to the local economy.

Hyde said that when he started with GCEDC in 2002, the agency and its affiliates did $600,000 in revenue. This last year, it generated $4.4 million in revenue. It turned a profit of $1.3 million.

"Those profits, of course, go right back into helping us create shovel-ready projects," Hyde said. "We try to build our community, build our tax base, create jobs and create success for our community."

March 21, 2012 - 3:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, business, Oakfield.

This is from reader Samantha Pangrazio:

The Oakfield Community Earth Day Clean-Up will host its third annual event April 21. This is an event where members of the community gather together to clear the roadsides of debris that is not only unsightly, but harmful to our environment.

This year, I am interested in making the event more appealing to all residents, especially school-aged kids and teenagers. One way to accomplish this is by supplying each participant with a complementary T-shirt and also by creating contests that would reward the winner of each category with a small donation from local businesses.

If you would like to help us out, please contact Samantha Pangrazio at <[email protected]>.

The Oakfield Community Earth Day Clean-Up is an opportunity for residents who, like me, have a deep-seated love and appreciation for our beautiful town and village.

Our first annual Oakfield Community Earth Day Clean-Up occurred two years ago on April 24, 2010. This was something that I decided to create because of the wonderful volunteering opportunity that it created for individuals and also because of the increasing amount of people who have become oblivious to the damaging effects that trash is creating in our communities. 

Due to the total number of participants who pitched in these past two years and the beautiful results that occurred, I would like to continue this experience for individuals interested in keeping our environment healthy.

Thank you.

March 21, 2012 - 3:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements, business, RAP.

Press release:

Olmsted Center for Sight in Buffalo is now in collaboration with Batavia-based Regional Action Phone, Inc. (RAP), a 24-hour information and referral, and crisis intervention helpline.

This relationship expands Olmsted Center for Sight’s contact center services into a 24-hour operation serving the eight counties of Western New York including 2-1-1 WNY.

The Olmsted Center serves the needs of blind and visually impaired individuals of all ages who reside in Western New York. It's the only organization within that region specifically mandated to provide comprehensive rehabilitation, health-related and human services to this highly specialized population.

Olmsted’s mission is to assist individuals with blindness or visual impairments to achieve their highest possible level of independence in their homes, community and workplace. It has served the community for more than 100 years and current programs include a respected vision clinic; rehabilitation services; an early education preschool; specialized housing properties; light manufacturing; and the Statler Center which is a vocational training program.

Additional services include switchboard operations for regional VA hospitals and an established contact center, which is enhanced by the addition of RAP.

RAP was formed in 1972 by a dedicated group of volunteers and has grown substantially in terms of services, regional coverage and call volume. Their crisis helplines also include MICA services (Mentally Ill and Chemically Addicted) and a Tip Line (set up to report underage drinking) for concerned citizens. RAP currently employs seven professional agents and has access to more than 150 languages and dialects, as well as TTY service for the deaf community.

Dr. Ronald Maier, president of Olmstead Center, said the collaboration strengthens employment opportunities in Olmsted’s call center program while bringing even greater service to the community. He also noted the timeliness of the action as RAP celebrates its 40th anniversary.

March 21, 2012 - 12:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, chamber of commerce.

Letter from Jerry A. Kozlowski, 2012 chairman, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors:

As you so clearly realize, these have been very turbulent times for small business owners across our great nation. Our small business community has been forced to endure a continual stream of new regulations and taxes that hinder prosperity and growth. Combine these obstacles with unending interference to the basic principle that has made American business exceptional, the concept of free enterprise, and we find ourselves in a very difficult business environment.

You the small business owner of Genesee County continue to be the ongoing hope for a brighter future. You the small business owner of Genesee County employ our husbands and wives, sons and daughters, and families and friends. You the small business owner of Genesee County are the true entrepreneurial spirit that will light our way towards future prosperity.

Being a small business owner in these trying times is a downright difficult challenge. You already knew that. But did you know you’re not in this fight alone?

That is why the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce exists. We’re here to help you, the small business owner, make your way through the ever-complicated maze of roadblocks that stand between you and future success. Your county chamber serves as a centralized location to represent your cause, as well as a combined voice that is far louder and more powerful than your's alone.

Our mission simply states:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce leads in the pursuit of creating an environment for business success, which will enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Genesee County.

But we honestly can’t accomplish this extremely important responsibility alone. We need your help! To our current chamber members, I thank you.  We need your continued support to fight the good fight. We also need you to help us enlist the small businesses who aren’t current members to join our ranks. We need you to be loyal ambassadors of your chamber of commerce, so we may truly help each other prosper…together.

To the businesses that are not current members of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, won’t you please consider joining us? As you know, there is power and great strength in armies with large numbers.  And as you also know, armies of voters are who Albany and Washington listen to.

Let me end by taking this opportunity to publically thank each and every business member, staff member and volunteer that make up our Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. Best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2012!

March 20, 2012 - 11:35pm

A plan for Ken Mistler to remodel the patio of the former South Beach Restaurant on Main Street received glowing reviews and eventual approval from members of the city's Design Review Committee on Tuesday.

The board opened its meeting with a field trip to South Beach were Mistler explained the concept.

Mistler intends to enclose the patio, but use retractable glass panels (something like a garage door made of glass panes) so that he can operate the patio as a bar, dining room and music venue 12 months out of the year.

"We'll close the windows for weather or when it's windy," Mistler said.

The concept has already received a positive recommendation from the Genesee County Planning Board and once the Design Review Committee approves his final plans in 30 days, Mistler will be able to proceed with construction.

Mistler is planning a Southwestern/Western theme with urban flair for the new restaurant and bar. It will be called City Slickers.

While the restaurant continues to cater parties in the basement bar and dining area, Mistler is completely remodeling the inside of the bar and dining area (the new custom-built wooden bars are stunning).

He expects to open City Slickers around the third week of April.

Photo below: Mistler holds a picture of the former Kiwanis Park that was west of South Beach from before Mistler remodeled it to the present patio.

March 20, 2012 - 8:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, UMMC.

Press release:

Anupa Seth, MD recently joined United Memorial’s primary care practice, Batavia Family Care Center. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and completed a Fellowship in Pain Management at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Seth is a graduate of Sawai Man Signh Medical College in Jaipur, India. She completed her Residency in Internal Medicine at Unity Health System in Rochester and was an Anesthesia Fellow at Strong Hospital.
Dr. Seth resides in Rochester with her family. She is a volunteer and member of the Jain Society; has traveled extensively in the U.S. and India and visited Nepal, France, and the UK.
She is accepting new patients at Batavia Family Care, which is located within the Jerome Center at 16 Bank Street, Batavia. Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid are accepted. Please call (585)344-4800 for an appointment.
United Memorial has been working with Dr. Seth on plans for a future Pain Management Clinic

March 20, 2012 - 8:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, BID.

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District has awarded two more façade improvement grants to downtown businesses. The recipients were Francis Marchese, owner of 238 Ellicott St., and Brian and Beth Kemp, owners of T-Shirts Etc., 111 Main St.  

Both businesses received matching grants for improvements to their facades. Marchese received $1,550 for installing new windows and frames at his Ellicott Street property. The Kemps were awarded $447.66 for signage that brings back some nostalgia by mimicking the old J.J. Newberry-type letters. These funds were awarded based upon the Business Improvement District’s design guidelines  

The B.I.D. Design Committee has now awarded 78 matching grants totaling over $319,933 in funds to revitalize businesses within the district.  Currently, there are two more projects that have been approved and should be completed within the next two months.

The Business Improvement District façade improvement program was established in 1998 to provide economic assistance to property owners and tenants for exterior improvements to their buildings. It has contributed to the renewed vitality of downtown by providing economic assistance and preserving the character of its structures. 

According to Don Burkel, B.I.D. downtown manager, these improvements demonstrate a long-term commitment by these business owners to downtown and  positive steps for its future.  When you consider that 78 businesses have reinvested in total project costs of over $2,626,600 in the district, that’s pretty impressive.

Find out more about why it would benefit you to set up shop in Downtown Batavia. Contact Don Burkel, B.I.D. downtown manager, at (585) 344-0900 or visit

March 15, 2012 - 4:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, UMMC.

Syed A, Shah MD has joined the United Memorial Cardiology and Internal Medicine Practice at 229 Summit Street, Batavia. Dr. Shah is a Board Certified non-invasive Cardiologist with extensive experience in developing outreach practices. He is a graduate of Allama Iqbal Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan; completed a Masters degree in Public Health from the University of Dundee, Scotland; received an MBA from the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester and has an MD from the State University of New York.

Dr. Shah is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology. He is certified as a Physician Executive by the Certification Commission in Medical Management. Dr. Shah is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and a Diplomate of the American College of Physician Executives. He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry. He practices in Batavia, Albion, Brockport and Olean. Dr. Shah resides in Penfield with his family.

Genesee Cardiology and Internal Medicine merged with United Memorial in December 2011 to create United Memorial Cardiology and Internal Medicine following the retirement of Dr. Keun Oh. The practice is accepting new patients.To make an appointment with Dr. Shah, Dr. Rathor or Susan Riner, NP telephone (585)344-4440. Most insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare are accepted.

March 13, 2012 - 5:18pm

PepsiCo and the Theo Muller Group -- partnering on Project Wave in Batavia -- will receive more than $11 million in tax relief for the planned yogurt plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

The incentive package was approved by the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board on Monday.

The PILOT on the project -- relief from taxes on the increased value of the assessment -- is 100 percent for the first six years and 50 percent in years seven through 10.

The total PILOT abatement is estimated at $5.6 million over 10 years.

The companies will also receive $5.4 million in sales tax abatement on materials and supplies for construction of the facility.

The project will add 186 new jobs to the local economy, and early planning for the plant projected as many as 600 jobs by 2033.

Wave Holding, LLC (the company formed by Pepsi and Muller for the project) will spend $206 million on construction of a 363,000-square-foot facility.

Construction on the project began in November.

The agreement calls for the first 186 jobs to be filled within three years of Wave Holding receiving a certificate of occupancy.

GCEDC competed with shovel-ready sites in Avon and Pennsylvania.

According to a GCEDC press release, for every $1 invested by Waving Holding the local economy will benefit by $14.47.

March 10, 2012 - 9:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Oakfield, Allens Inc..

Allens Inc., a food-processing company based in Arkansas, has sold four of its six frozen vegetable processing plants, including its Oakfield and Bergen plants, to Bonduelle Group, a privately held firm based in France.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The sale is expected to close by the end of the month.

The four plants employ 400 people. The number employed in just Bergen and Oakfield were not released.

Allens is reportedly using the funds generated by the sale to invest in new technology and expand its canned-food operations in Arkansas, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

"We're excited to put a renewed focus on the core of our business and the market segments we are most passionate about," said Rick Allen, president and CEO of Allens. "With this renewed concentration, we anticipate greater growth, more innovation and even better customer service and product quality. We're excited about what this will mean to the marketplace and to our customers and partners, overall."

The purchase includes the Chill Ripe brand and the frozen Garden Classics brand, as well as a license to use certain brand names owned by Allens in the frozen business for a limited transitional period.

The two Genesee County plants were acquired by Allens in 2006 from Birds Eye.

Sources: Rochester Business Journal and a press release.

March 9, 2012 - 2:42pm

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of a series prepared on behalf of the tourism agency of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. The new tourism guide was recently published and is available at the chamber's office and will soon be available at other tourism locations. The guide is also available for download from the official tourism site for Genesee County,

Of all the art and artifacts in Tony Kutter's home in Corfu, one he's quick to show off is a German beer stein presented to his father, Leo, after he completed his training in making handcrafted cheese.

The hand-painted stein depicts craftsmen making cheese.

“In Germany, if you went to school for a vocation, you would get an occupational stein to keep," Tony said.

Leo Kutter started his cheese-making career after World War I. Kutter had served in the German infantry as a teenager, was wounded, captured by Allied troops, escaped, and by the time the war ended decided he wanted to learn to make cheese.

One day, a boss suggested "you're a young man without a wife or child -- you ought to move to America and seek out better opportunities.”

Kutter set his sights on the then-boomtown of Buffalo and arrived at Ellis Island with only $16 in his pocket.

There were plenty of jobs available for immigrants in Buffalo in the 1920s.

"When he came to America, Buffalo was the largest manufacturing metropolis in the world," Tony Kutter said.

Leo Kutter took a job in a cheese factory and dreamed of owning his own business.

Kutter's Cheese opened in Corfu in 1947 when Tony was 14.

"I admired my father because he was steadfast and he worked hard," said Tony. "I learned from him to appreciate good work habits. I remember as a teenager, I wanted to play football and do all that stuff and he said, 'ah, that's just a waste of time.' I would come home after school, change my clothes and wash milk cans and get things ready for the next day."

There was time for fun, but Tony and his friends, who were all sons of dairy farmers, would complain about their chores and work life.

"Of course, we all thought we were being abused," Tony said with a chuckle.

Tony and his brother Richard learned the cheese business, but Leo Kutter didn't live long enough to see Kutter's grow into a nationally known brand of speciality cheeses.

Leo died when Tony and Richard were in their 20s and the brothers took over the business, with Tony running the factory and and Richard keeping the books.

"My father prepared me for my life and taught me how to set some goals and work hard," Tony said. "He prepared me for being successful in business. I think you can take the easy route, but my father wanted to start a business so much that when he died, I felt obligated to carry it on."

The business paid for Tony's three children to go to college and start careers of their own. The factory is now owned and operated by Yancey's Fancy, and the outlet store in Corfu is owned by Brian and Heather Bailey and Christine Adamczak.

It also opened a door for Tony to go to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and help Russian entrepreneurs get started in the cheese business.

Kutter speaks Russian and owns bits of Russian history, such as sculptures, antique toy trains and a Soviet propaganda flag, all collected over the course of 31 trips to Siberia over a 12-year span.

He helped set up a cheese factory in Omsk that would serve as the central employer of 300 Mennonites.

Mennonites, being of German heritage, would have been granted permission to flee Siberia and return to Germany as refugees, but at the time Germany was suffering from high unemployment, and an influx of refugees would’ve only added to the problem. Instead, the German government offered to pay shipping costs to Omsk for all the necessary equipment for a cheese factory there.

"It was so interesting and rewarding to be able to help those people,” Kutter said.

The Mennonites learned to make cheese the Kutter way, which is to go well beyond a mere sharp cheddar -- the primary cheese being made in New York when Tony and Richard took over Kutter's -- and add flavors to create different specialty cheeses.

"I developed different varieties, such as horseradish cheese," said Kutter. "Everybody is copying me now. I was the first guy to make that stuff and they're making it in California now."

Even so, Tony is proud of the success he's had and warns others who might go into business for themselves: it's hard work.

"My father always told me if you‘re going to do something, be as good at it as you can be and make sure you really like it."

March 9, 2012 - 2:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, agriculture, Empire Tractor.

Last October, Empire Tractor moved to a new location at 5072 E. Main St. Road and has taken the past few months to get settled into the new, larger facility.  Today and tomorrow, Empire Tractor is holding a grand opening and open house.

Among the items on display is a newly released Oxbo Model 4334 self-propelled merger. The merger -- pictured below -- is made by Oxbo in Byron and is the only piece of equipment in its class in the world. Several aspects of the technology behind it are patented. The merger can gather hay on 250 to 400 acres in a day. It moves across a field at 8 to 12 mph.

Standing in front of the 4334, above, are Tim Call, president of Empire Tractor, Ken Krokowski, of Oxbo, Steve Werner, Dan Athoe, John Bannister and Bill Friese.

The open house continues tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

March 9, 2012 - 12:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stein Farms.

Even two new Greek yogurt plants in Batavia won't be of much help to small dairy farmers, which are finding it harder to survive in a globalized market and stringent regulatory environment.

Dale Stein, who operates a large dairy farm in Le Roy, said his heart is with the small dairy farmer, but knows they need to make some tough choices to stay in business.

"I have great sympathy for the small dairy farmer," Stein said. "We were a small dairy farm once. My brothers and I did the milking while my father worked in the fields. He went 20 years without a day of vacation."

The Batavian spoke with Stein Thursday and asked him about a New York Times story that said small dairy farms throughout the state are struggling.

How could Robert and Fred — who produce so much more milk than their dad — end up making less money? There are a number of reasons, some obvious, others less so. Milk went from a local industry to a national one, and then it became international. The technological advances that made the Fulpers more productive also helped every other dairy farm, too, which led to ever more intense competition. But perhaps most of all, in the last decade, dairy products and cow feed became globally traded commodities. Consequently, modern farmers have effectively been forced to become fast-paced financial derivatives traders.

In other words, if a dairy farmer doesn't hedge -- buying options to bet against an increase in prices -- they can't make money. (In hedging, if prices increase, the farmer profits; if prices decline, the farmer offsets losses on product with gains on the options.)

Stein said his farm is big enough to manage the fluctuations in commodity prices, but small farmers simply can't do it.

"Margins are tiny and getting smaller each year," Stein said. "The only way to survive is to sell more product, and if the size of your herd is limited, the less you have to sell."

EPA regulations define a small dairy as 199 head of cattle or less. If a farmer wants to milk a 200th cow, the amount of equipment, technology and infrastructure required to comply with government regulations would cost at least $250,000, Stein said.

Few small farmers want to take that chance.

Especially in today's labor market with fewer qualified migrant workers available.

"It's very difficult for them to compete for labor and for land," Stein said. "We started small. My dad started with two cows. We've slowly grown our business so we can employ more people and give everybody a middle-class wage. It's not that we wanted to be big, but we had to grow to survive."

John Gould, owner of Har Go farms in Pavilion, decided to go a different direction in his effort to keep a farm going that his father bought in 1956.

It's a decision many small farmers have made to survive, according to the Times article.

As tough as it might be to grow from a small dairy farm to a large dairy farm, Gould made the equally daunting decision to switch his farm to certified organic.

Making the switch, which he began in 2005, took three years. It involved building fences (because cows would graze rather than be confined to feed lots), put in water lines and pave drive ways. It takes time for the herd to adjust to a different diet -- corn and soy raised without pesticides or herbicides -- so milk production can drop to nothing for a time. Fields that once relied on chemicals to be productive must be slowly turned back into fields that are mechanically tilled for weeds and can tolerate a few bugs.

"You've got to think those things through and plan how you're going to handle all of that," Gould said.

But Gould said he got what he wanted out of the switch to organic: A profitable and viable small dairy farm.

"It seems to have been a good decision for us," Gould said. "It's certainly a different lifestyle from the type of farming we had been accustomed to, but we continue to make very high quality milk, which is very important to us and important to our customers."

Gould is philosophical about the choice for small dairy farmers -- spend the money to comply with environmental regulations or take a loss for three years and switch to organic.

"Nothing in this business is simple or automatic," Gould said. "That's the life we chose. If we're going to be in the business, we have to make those kinds of decisions."

Small dairy farms that decide to grow would indeed help New York meet the anticipated demand for milk created by two new Greek yogurt plants in Batavia. But Stein said obstacles to growth for small dairy farmers will hold back the industry.

Even now, before Alpina and Pepsi open their plants, the local supply of milk is limited.

"Chobani (operating a Greek yogurt plant near Albany) already uses so much milk that we don't have any extra milk now in our market," Stein said.

It would help the New York dairy industry tremendously, Stein said, if it were easier for the small dairy farms to grow and help meet increased demand.

"We all want to protect the environment, but current environmental regulations are stopping growth of the dairy industry in New York," Stein said. "Pepsi's milk may well have to come out of Michigan because they have enough milk and we don't, which is a shame, because we could use the jobs."

March 7, 2012 - 6:09pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Membership Committee has developed a NEW and exciting Series of Seminars to help you and your employees stay informed of the hot topics facing your business today! We invite non-members as well as chamber members to attend.

The seminars will cover topics such as accounting, insurance and technology/computers. We have leading experts in each industry to present and share their knowledge with you.  Presenters include Freed, Maxick CPAs, P.C. on accounting issues, Lawley Genesee on insurance topics and Marchese Computer Products discussing technology/computers.

In order to keep these seminars intimate and allow for a more personalized setting they will be limited to 20 people per session. We feel this will create a more casual environment that will allow attendees to feel more comfortable to participate and ask questions.

All seminars will be held at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Office, 210 E. Main St., Downtown Batavia. Networking and light refreshments will begin at 7:45 a.m. with the seminar to start promptly at 8 and end at 9.

All sessions are FREE for Chamber Members and $5 for non-members. Call Kelly Birmingham at 343-7440, ext. 26, to RSVP.

REMEMBER each seminar is limited to 20, RSVP on a first-come basis.

Here's the Spring schedule of FREE seminars:

  • Thursday, March 15 -- INSURANCE 

"Employee wellness"

Presented by Julie Ciura with Lawley Genesee Benefits Group and Dr. Lawrence Sherman, medical director at UMMC's Corporate Health Center

  • Thursday, March 22 -- ACCOUNTING

"Estate and business succession planning"

Presented by Tim Moag, CPA, Freed Maxick CPAs, P.C.

  • Thursday, March 29 -- COMPUTERS /TECHNOLOGY

"Why are you printing in a paperless office? Come learn how to utilize the 75 percent of your computer that didn't even know exisited."

Presented by Paul Marchese, owner of Marchese Computer Products

  • Tuesday, April 17 -- INSURANCE

"Insurance 101 -- Everything you wanted to know about business insurance but were afraid to ask."

Presented by Bill Fritts, CIC Lawley Genesee Insurance

  • Tuesday, April 24 -- COMPUTERS / TECHNOLOGY

Topic TBA

Presented by Paul Marchese, owner of Marchese Computer Products

  • Tuesday, May 1 -- ACCOUNTING

"Business valuation: What's your business worth?"

Presented by Ron Soluri Jr., CPA, CVA Freed Maxick, CPAs, P.C.

March 6, 2012 - 5:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, agriculture, My-T Acres.

DEC officials and the owners of MY-T Acres have agreed to a $7,500 fine for the farm's Oct. 12 release of a pesticide that led to the evacuation of as many as 300 homes along West Main Road.

The DEC faulted MY-T Acres for application of a restricted use of a pesticide by a non-certified applicator, use of pesticide contrary to the label and contamination adjacent the non-target area.

The pesticide used, Chloropicrin, is applied to potato fields prior to planting.

Oct. 12 was a humid, windless day and the pesticide hung close to the ground. One person was treated for minor exposure and residents who did not evacuate the area were encouraged to close their windows.

MY-T Acres waived a hearing on the violations and agreed to pay the fine.





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