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January 27, 2017 - 4:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Tompkins Bank of Castile.

Press release:

Tompkins Financial Corporation (NYSEMKT:TMP) reported record diluted earnings per share of $0.99 for the fourth quarter of 2016, a 7.6% increase from the $0.92 reported in the fourth quarter of 2015. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2016 was $15.1 million, up 9.1% compared to the $13.9 million reported for the same period in 2015.

President and CEO, Stephen S. Romaine said "We are very pleased to end 2016 with the best fourth quarter in our Company’s long history. Fourth quarter performance reflects the ongoing success of our business development efforts that have produced solid growth in net loan and deposit balances, which are up 12.9% and 5.2%, respectively over 2015. Growth in these key balance sheet categories gives us very good momentum as we head into 2017.”

Full year results reflect the best earnings per share in Company history. For the year ended December 31, 2016, diluted earnings per share were $3.91, an increase of 1.0%, over the $3.87 per share reported in 2015. The record results for 2016 are especially noteworthy given that results for 2015 included a non-recurring curtailment gain of $3.6 million after tax ($0.24 per share) related to changes to the Company’s pension plan, which was recognized in the second quarter of 2015. Refer to the table of “NON-GAAP MEASURES” included in this press release for additional details. Full year and quarterly results for 2016 reflect the impact of the early adoption of Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-09, Improvements to Employee Share-Based Payment Accounting, which is more fully described in Footnote 10 of this press release.

SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS FOR FOURTH QUARTER:

  • Net interest income of $46.4 million for the current quarter was up 6.8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2015
  • Total loans of $4.3 billion at year end 2016 were up 12.9% over year end 2015
  • Noninterest bearing deposit balances of $1.2 billion at year end 2016 are up 8.6% over year end 2015
  • Nonperforming assets of $22.6 million at year end 2016, though up $3.3 million from the most recent prior quarter, reflect a decrease of 7.8% from year end 2015.
  • During the quarter, the Company announced that it will redeem approximately $20.5 million of 7% Fixed Rate Trust Preferred securities, effective January 31, 2017. For purposes of calculating regulatory capital, these securities were not included as part of Tier 1 capital at year end 2016.

NET INTEREST INCOME

Net interest income of $46.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2016 increased by $2.9 million, or 6.8% compared to the same period in 2015. For the full year, net interest income was $180.6 million, up $12.3 million, or 7.3% from the same period in 2015.

Growth in net interest income was largely driven by $447.7 million of growth in average total loans since the fourth quarter of 2015, an increase of 12.1%. The loan growth was supported, in part, by a $212.7 million increase in average total deposits over the same period. The net interest margin was 3.30% in the fourth quarter, down from 3.31% for the most recent prior quarter, and 3.35% for the same quarter last year.

NONINTEREST INCOME

Noninterest income was $16.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2016, and was down $1.6 million or 8.9% compared to the same period in 2015. For the full year, noninterest income of $68.8 million is down from $71.9 million reported for 2015. Prior year-to-date results included net gains on the sale of other real estate owned of $946,000, which were higher by $860,000, when compared to the current year-to-date period. Fee based revenue for 2016 (including insurance, wealth management, and banking related fees), was relatively flat compared to the prior year.

NONINTEREST EXPENSE

Noninterest expense was $39.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2016, approximately flat, when compared to that same quarter in 2015. For the full year, noninterest expenses were $158.6 million in 2016, up $8.7 million, or 5.8% over 2015. The current full year results included $313,000 of expense related to the early termination of an FDIC loss share agreement, which was recognized in the third quarter of 2016; and $546,000 of deconversion expenses related to a core system conversion planned for 2017. The deconversion expenses include $306,000 of expenses that were recognized in the fourth quarter of 2016. Prior year noninterest expenses benefited from a $6.0 million (pretax) non-recurring curtailment gain (recognized in the second quarter of 2015) related to a change in the Company’s defined benefit pension plan.

ASSET QUALITY

Asset quality trends remained strong in the fourth quarter of 2016. Nonperforming assets were down $1.9 million or 7.8% compared to the fourth quarter in 2015; though they were up $3.3 million or 17.0% from the most recent prior quarter. Nonperforming assets represented 0.36% of total assets at December 31, 2016, compared to 0.32% at September 30, 2016, and 0.43% at December 31, 2015. Nonperforming asset levels continue to be well below the most recent Federal Reserve Board Peer Group Average1 of 0.77%.

The provision for loan and lease losses was $1.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2016, up from $1.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. Full year provision expense was $4.3 million in 2016, up from $2.9 million in 2015. The year-over-year increase in provision expense is primarily due to loan growth, as well as higher net recoveries in the prior period. Net charge-offs for 2016 were $571,000 compared to net recoveries of $62,000 reported in 2015.

The Company’s allowance for originated loan and lease losses totaled $35.6 million at December 31, 2016, and represented 0.92% of total originated loans and leases at December 31, 2016, compared to 0.95% at December 31, 2015. The total allowance represented 165.0% of total nonperforming loans and leases at December 31, 2016, up from 146.7% at December 31, 2015.

CAPITAL POSITION

Capital ratios remain well above the regulatory well-capitalized minimums. The ratio Tier 1 capital to average assets of 8.41% at December 31, 2016, compared to 8.82% reported for December 31, 2015. Total capital to risk-weighted assets at December 31, 2016 was 12.22%, compared to 13.03% reported at December 31, 2015. Contributing to the decline in capital levels in the fourth quarter of 2016 was the exclusion from Tier I capital of $20.5 million in 7% Fixed Rate Trust preferred securities, which the Company plans to redeem in January 2017.

ABOUT TOMPKINS FINANCIAL CORPORATION

Tompkins Financial Corporation is a financial services company serving the Central, Western, and Hudson Valley regions of New York and the Southeastern region of Pennsylvania. Headquartered in Ithaca, NY, Tompkins Financial is parent to Tompkins Trust Company, Tompkins Bank of Castile, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, Tompkins VIST Bank, Tompkins Insurance Agencies, Inc., and offers wealth management services through Tompkins Financial Advisors. For more information on Tompkins Financial, visit www.tompkinsfinancial.com.

"Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform of 1995:

This press release may include forward-looking statements with respect to revenue sources, growth, market risk, and corporate objectives. The Company assumes no duty, and specifically disclaims any obligation, to update forward-looking statements, and cautions that these statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties, all of which could change over time. Actual results could differ materially from forward-looking statements.

For more details, click here.

 

January 26, 2017 - 2:45pm

Malware, ransomware, hackers, scams, viruses.marchese_1.jpg

The sound of the words themselves is scary. Just think of the horror that arrives when these “diseases” actually infect a person’s computer.

Safeguarding one’s computer from uninvited software and/or criminal activity should not be taken lightly, according to two longtime Batavia businessmen who specialize in computer sales, repair and data protection.

Paul Marchese (top photo) of Marchese Computer Products on Ellicott Street and Marc Johnson (bottom photo) of Millennium Computers on Washington Avenue gave almost identical responses when it comes to protecting computer files.

“Backup, backup, backup,” Marchese said, “and always back to more than one place, such as separate external hard drives or recovery systems. And never, and I repeat never, use DVD or flash drives as primary backups. Both of these devices fail on a regular basis.”

Johnson agreed.

johnson.jpg

“It’s important to save multiple iterations of the files – local backup and offsite (Cloud) backups,” said Johnson, who, like Marchese, offers managed offsite backup along with anti-virus, anti-malware and critical update services.

Backups of a computer’s (or network of computers’) programs, data files and hard drives are essential should a computer crash or be infected by viruses or a devious hacker.

For those not familiar with the terminology:

-- Malware is software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems.

-- Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

-- Viruses are types of malicious codes or programs written to alter the way a computer operates and are designed to spread from one computer to another. They can be spread through email and text message attachments, Internet downloads, social media scam links, mobile devices and smart phones – and can be disguised as attachments to such things as funny images, greeting cards, or audio and video files.

A necessary first step, Marchese said, is to install top-rated virus and spyware software on your computer.

“Symantec, BitDefender and McAfee are the top three,” he said. “In our industry – more than most – you get what you pay for. Free anti-virus does not do much more than what is built in, and that is not good.”

Both Johnson, whose business is in its 20th year, and Marchese, who opened in 1981, said they have been busy restoring individuals’ and business computers from viruses, phony messages and from hackers purporting to be from Microsoft, Facebook or other legitimate companies claiming they have information that the computer is infected.

“They’re all fake. No one from these companies ever will call you because your machine is infected,” Marchese said. “These unscrupulous people just want access to your machine so they can encrypt and force you to pay to get the key.”

Computer pop-ups can create havoc as well.

“Oftentimes a message will pop up on your screen, stating that the computer is infected and that a call needs to be made to Microsoft to fix it,” Johnson said. “This illicits an emotional response and the user will call the number and let the person remote into their computer.”

This usually opens a Pandora’s Box for trouble, resulting in anywhere from the computer being encrypted and locked (ransomware) to personal passwords and account information being stolen.

Marchese said the best response to an unsolicited call is to tell them “my computer guy is coming in an hour to install my new printer, so I’ll have him take a look at it. Never go to your machine – tell them it is off if they keep pressing you.”

Johnson also mentioned a virus known as “locky,” which can come as an attachment to an email stating that a shipment is delayed or one with a similar message.

“Once you open the email, the virus basically encrypts all your documents,” he said, “and you can’t decrypt them unless you pay them to get the key. You’re held ransom.”

Some other measures people can take to protect themselves are as follows:

-- Updating operating systems and software on a regular basis;
-- Enabling Microsoft product updates;
-- Installing anti-malware, anti-spyware, firewall and anti-exploit technology;
-- Destroying all personal info on hardware you plan to sell (erasing the hard drive);
-- Avoiding Wi-Fi that is not password protected;
-- Placing passwords on all devices, including desktops, laptops, phones, smart watches, tablets, cameras, etc., and using the fingerprint lock for the iPhone and passkey or swipe for Android.

January 25, 2017 - 3:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in alexander, agriculture, business, news, Announcements.

Tickets are still available for the 15th Annual Celebrate Agriculture Dinner! The dinner will take place Saturday, March 18 at the Alexander Fire Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m.  This event is a celebration of Genesee County’s number one industry – Agriculture. The highlight is a delicious meal using locally produced foods prepared by Penna’s Catering.

The dinner is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce (8276 Park Road, Batavia) for $30 each. A table of 10 can be purchased for $275. Sponsorships are available for $350 and help to support agriculture educational events in Genesee County. Tickets will not  be sold at the door.

The Celebrate Ag Dinner is coordinated by the following partners: Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, Genesee County Farm Bureau and Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District. Many local farms and businesses sponsor or donate products to this event.

For ticket information contact the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce at 585-343-7440, ext. 1027 or [email protected]

January 25, 2017 - 3:38pm

Press Release: BATAVIA – Krysia Mager has been promoted to assistant vice president, marketing officer of Tompkins Bank of Castile.

“Krysia’s marketing expertise has helped Tompkins Bank of Castile grow in Western New York,” said Gregg McAllister, vice president of marketing communications. “In addition to local advertising and public relations, Krysia also executes marketing programs for other affiliate banks of Tompkins Financial Corporation in New York and Pennsylvania. She is an important contributor to our corporate strategy.” 
Mager has been with Tompkins Bank of Castile for more than eight years. She was a member of the inaugural class of Tompkins’ Professional Development Program, which was an 18-month masters-type program enhancing cross-departmental expertise within the Tompkins Financial Corporation. She is enrolled at Marist College for a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications.

Mager is very active in the community. She served as the chairperson of the City of Batavia Centennial Celebration, on the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Awards Night committee and volunteers at various downtown events presented by the Batavia Business Improvement District, where she previously was a member of the Board of Directors and Promotions Committee.

She and her husband, Jonathan, reside in Batavia and have two daughters, Emersyn and Evelyn.

Tompkins Bank of Castile is a community bank with 16 offices in the five-county western New York region. Services include complete lines of consumer deposit accounts and loans, business accounts and loans, and leasing. In addition, insurance is offered through an affiliate company, Tompkins Insurance Agencies. Wealth management, trust and investment services are provided through Tompkins Financial Advisors. Further information about the bank is available on its website, www.bankofcastile.com. 

585-493-2576 • 90 Main Street • Batavia, New York 14020 www.bankofcastile.com
Member FDIC

January 24, 2017 - 12:42pm
posted by Lisa Ace in business, John Riter, Merrill Lynch, batavia.

Press Release:

Merrill Lynch today announced John Riter has been appointed resident director of Merrill Lynch’s Batavia office.

Riter will lead the Batavia office’s team of dedicated Merrill Lynch financial advisors to continue to deliver wealth management strategies to local area individuals, families, and businesses. 

“John’s proven leadership and outstanding reputation make him the perfect candidate to lead our Batavia local office,” said Jeff Adams, managing director and market executive. “John’s 29 years of experience will enhance our ability to offer the highest quality of service that Batavia’s sophisticated investors have come to expect from Merrill Lynch.” 

Riter, a resident of Batavia, N.Y., joined Merrill Lynch in 2008.

Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management
Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management is a leading provider of comprehensive wealth management and investment services for individuals and businesses globally. With 14,552 financial advisors and $2.1 trillion in client balances as of September 30, 2016, it is among the largest businesses of its kind in the world. Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management specializes in goals-based wealth management, including planning for retirement, education, legacy, and other life goals through investment, cash and credit management. Within Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, the Private Banking and Investment Group focuses on the unique and personalized needs of wealthy individuals, families and their businesses. These clients are served by more than 175 highly specialized private wealth advisor teams, along with experts in areas such as investment management, concentrated stock management and intergenerational wealth transfer strategies. Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management is part of Bank of America Corporation.

MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer, member Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. 
© 2016 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved. 

January 24, 2017 - 12:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in carter's restaurant, batavia, news, business.

The owner of Carter's Restaurant, Brenden Mullen, said this morning he isn't sure when or if he will again open the restaurant on Main Street in Downtown Batavia.

The doors were locked and shades drawn a few days ago.

On Jan. 11, Mullen posted on Facebook that he was going to change the style of the restaurant from fine dining to something more casual along with "the best specialty drinks in Batavia."

Reached this morning and asked to clarify the status of the restaurant, he said he was taking time off to assess his options and said he isn't sure if he will reopen with a new concept. He said remaining closed is an option.

NOTE: If you purchased a Deal of the Day for Carter's within the past 30 days, return the unused gift certificate to The Batavian for a refund. Mail it to The Batavian, 200 E. Main St., Batavia, NY 14020.

January 24, 2017 - 10:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in The Hidden Door, Pollyanna and Dot, batavia, business, news.

15107422_1153169084718659_4577728982018673410_n.jpg

With the transition in leadership of the Business Improvement District, there was no announcement of the annual window decorating contest for Christmas and Beth Kemp, the new director, stopped by my office yesterday to note that the winner was The Hidden Door/Pollyanna and Dot, 202 E. Main St., Batavia.

January 23, 2017 - 3:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, chapin.

Press release:

Chapin International Inc. is pleased to announce it has been awarded the ISO14001 Environmental Management System Certificate by Bureau Veritas. With a focus on sustainability, the Environmental Management System is a systemic approach to handling environmental issues within an organization. This prestigious, internationally recognized certification has been achieved by only a small percentage of U.S. manufacturing companies.

“We are extremely proud of our team and their efforts to achieve this important certification,” says James Campbell, president and CEO. “It means that we have committed to the protection of the environment, promoting an awareness of environmental protection within the organization and continual improvement in the environmental performance of the company.”

About Chapin

Chapin International Inc. is the world’s largest manufacturer of compressed air garden sprayers and broadcast spreaders. Our world-class organization includes exacting manufacturing and progressive technology and design methods enabling us to provide our customers the best sprayers and applicators for their needs.

For more information, contact: Laurie Shepland, vice president, Human Resources [email protected].

January 20, 2017 - 9:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC, Alabama, business.

What started over a decade ago as a concept to market a site for the emerging advanced manufacturing industry became a reality as the Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved contracts to prepare bids for infrastructure work at STAMP. The first phase of infrastructure funding is part of the $33 million allocated to STAMP --  -- Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park -- from the Buffalo Billion.

“This is a watershed moment for STAMP,” said GCEDC Board Chairman Paul Battaglia. “We are finally going to start putting shovels in the ground to begin the process of building a next-generation site to bring advanced manufacturing companies to our region.”

The board approved a contract for $380,000 to the engineering firm Clark Patterson Lee to prepare bids and handle construction inspection for Phase I and Phase II work for water infrastructure, including enhancements to the Town of Alabama water system. The board approved a second contract for $165,000 to Clark Patterson Lee to prepare bids and handle construction inspection on roadways within the STAMP site and the main entrance off of Route 77. The firm will oversee the drafting, issuance and review of the various bids for the road and water infrastructure work.

“It’s one thing to say to corporate site selectors and economic development officials that you have a site for potential development as opposed to having a site that is shovel ready with road and utility infrastructure already built,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “Our site immediately rises to the top of the list among those making decisions about where they are going to build the next new advanced manufacturing facility.”

It is anticipated that the bidding documents for the water and roadway will work be released in mid-February with actual work to begin on site in late spring.

The GCEDC board meeting was held on Thursday, Jan. 19.

January 19, 2017 - 6:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chamber of commerce, batavia, news, business.

chamberribbon2017img_0429.jpg

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce celebrated its arrival in a new home, with a new tourism center, on Park Road, Town of Batavia, today, with a ribbon cutting.

While the upstairs offices are a modern and comfortable place for chamber employees to work, it's the downstairs visitors center that is the star of the renovated building.

Chamber President Tom Turnbull noted its close proximity to the Thruway and the nearby hotels, which by the end of the year will have a total of 1,000 guest rooms between them.

"It will now be our job to encourage these visitors to our county to explore deeper into the county to shop, eat and enjoy many of the fine services available," Turnbull said.

The move was appropriate, said Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Genesee County Legislature, because tourism dollars are important to the health of our local economy.

"Many people either forget, or they may not be aware, what a significant impact tourism has on our local economy," Cianfrini said. "Aside from the money people spend on their food and their fuel and their lodging, they also contribute significantly to our sales tax and our bed tax revenues. The Chamber has done a fantastic job of promoting tourism in Genesee County."

chamberribbon2017.jpg

Tom Turnbull

chamberribbon2017-2.jpg

Ray Cianfrini

January 17, 2017 - 3:12pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce invites you to attend the opening of their new offices and tourism visitor center with a public ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19. 

An open house of the new Chamber facilities will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. The new office, located at 8276 Park Road in Batavia, houses a new tourism visitor center and office spaces for both the Chamber of Commerce and Genesee County Tourism staff. 

The two-level, 3,400-square-foot space was a former physical therapist's office. Funds from the Chamber of Commerce and county bed tax surplus paid for the building and renovations.

The upstairs level houses the chamber’s offices and board room. The new board room offers flexible seating arrangements which will help in hosting meetings and seminars. 

In addition to larger office, meeting, administrative and parking space, the Chamber sought out the Park Road location due to its proximity to Batavia’s hotel district and New York State Thruway.

The new visitor center will have 24- hour accessibility for travelers. During normal business hours, a staffed visitor center will be open to greet and assist guests. During off-hours, the front vestibule with visitor information will be available. Large maps, brochure displays and staff at the service desk will assist guests during their stay in Genesee County. 

Volunteer forms are now available for community members who are interested in greeting visitors and assisting them at the new center. Forms can be picked up at the Park Road location or can be requested by email at [email protected]

January 17, 2017 - 10:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chamber of commerce, business, news.

The Business of the Year for Genesee County is Liberty Pumps, the Chamber of Commerce has announced.

Other award winners in the 45th annual slate of top local businesses and community members are:

  • Foxprowl Collectables, Entrepreneurial Business of the Year
  • Stein Farms, Agricultural Business of the Year
  • Red Osier Restaurant, Special Service Recognition
  • Steve and Lisa Grice, Geneseeans of the Year

The awards will be presented March 4 at a dinner and ceremony at Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road, Batavia. The evening begins at 4:30 with hors d'oeuvres, entree tables and a cash bar. The awards program starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person or $450 for a table of 10.

January 15, 2017 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rogers Beer, Smokin' Eagle BBQ and Brew, Le Roy, news, business.

rogersbeerjan152017-2.jpg

Marc Marcello, Jay Beaumont and Jon Marcello, owners of the Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew in Le Roy were at the bridal show at Terry Hills today with their microbrew, Rogers Beer.

The story of Rogers Beer begins about seven years ago with Al Rogers, a brewer in Rochester who started his own brewery, eventually selling his beer in 12 Wegmans and 30 bars and restaurants in the region.

After the birth of a second child, he needed to give up his sideline business and he walked into 58 Main in Brockport and told Marc Marcello he was giving up the business.

"He delivered the news he was walking away from it and my brother wouldn’t take that for an answer," Jon Marcello said. "We got together and over a few lunch sessions with Jay and Marc, we put an offer in and he accepted. A few days later he called and asked if he could stay on a brewmaster and we told him, 'we don’t know how to make the beer, so that’s perfect.' "

Rogers Beer is now based in Le Roy, though the beer is currently brewed at a facility in Honeoye Falls, but Jon said the goal is to build up the business enough to open a brewery in Le Roy.

The beer is made with 20-percent New York ingredients with the goal of achieving 100-percent New York-grown ingredients within five years.

The five flavors of beer are all on tap on the Smokin' Eagle and at 58 Main and 22-ounce bottles can be purchased for carryout. 

The dog icons on the menu below were all drawn by a local artist featuring dogs from Le Roy.

There will be a kickoff party sometime in February at the Smokin' Eagle for the newly based in Le Roy Rogers Beer. Watch The Batavian for details.

rogersbeerjan152017.jpg

January 11, 2017 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, news, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21) have introduced the Family Farm Relief Act of 2017, legislation to move the H-2A Agricultural Visa program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture to better meet the unique labor needs of farmers and agricultural businesses.

“The last thing our farmers need is for the federal government to make it harder for them to make ends meet,” Congressman Collins said. “Access to a willing and available labor force is absolutely critical for Western New York’s agriculture community, particularly our dairy farmers. I am proud to join my colleague Congresswoman Stefanik in introducing this common-sense legislation to streamline and improve the H-2A visa program.”

“Agriculture is the backbone of our North Country economy and I am pleased to introduce this important bill to address the labor shortages facing our farmers,” Congresswoman Stefanik said. “When I travel the district speaking with our farmers, I often hear about how unnecessary delays in worker visas lead to difficulty meeting production goals. This common-sense legislation simply puts the H-2A agricultural visa program in the hands of those who best understand the specific needs of our farms.”

“Immigration reform that allows for both seasonal and year-round farm labor has been a longtime priority for New York Farm Bureau. For too long, the federal H2A guest visa program has been cumbersome, prone to delays and too rigid to fit the needs of both farmers and their employees. We thank Congresswoman Stefanik for taking the lead on The Family Farm Relief Act that will provide real reform and address a critical issue in New York's diverse agricultural community,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau president.

The Family Farm Relief Act of 2017 takes practical measures such as allowing visa applicants to fill out H-2A applications on paper or online, requiring a user-friendly online system, and ending burdensome requirements on advertising and prevailing practice surveys.

The current H-2A visa program is unworkable, especially for the dairy farms across our nation. The H-2A visa program does not currently provide a category for year-round livestock workers, including dairy. This has caused difficulties for dairy farms that need employees year-round. This legislation addresses this oversight, by creating an H-2A category for these workers.

Additionally, the legislation also allows farm cooperatives and other agricultural associations to apply for workers for their members, makes the program more workable for dairy and other livestock operations, and requires reporting to Congress if delays occur in the H-2A visa application process.

January 4, 2017 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Gerace Realty, batavia, business.

geracerealtylaunchjan42016.jpg

The Gerace family is returning to their locally owned roots in real estate in Genesee County.

Two years ago, Joe and Lois Gerace sold Bob Harris Realty to Realty USA, a Buffalo-based company, but in July, the CEO of Realty USA sold his company to Pennsylvania-based Howard Hanna Company and when John and Robert Gerace got word that new owners wanted to consolidate offices, that just didn't make sense to them.

"It doesn't make sense to say you're local and then have a business card with Lancaster or Depew on it," John said. "Are you local or aren't you? I think it was confusing."

The new company will be Gerace Realty. The new website is geracerealty.com. Like Bob Harris, and RealtyUSA, the new logo is red, white and black.

Lois, who has 40 years experience in real estate, will be part of the new company along with John and Robert. Much of the staff will be the same as it was for years when the company was Bob Harris.

The new signs, on the same converted house on Ellicott Avenue that was home to Bob Harris Realty when Joe and Lois bought the company in 1986, went up yesterday while the transition is still underway.

John Gerace said managers at Realty USA were supportive of their decision to go back to being a locally owned office and the relationship with staff there remains good and Gerace Realty will be able to tap into the larger company's network of bankers and attorneys as needed.

Howard Hanna also acquired Nothnagle, and both John and Robert see an advantage being outside of Rochester and Buffalo as a smaller, locally focused company.

"You're dealing with experienced agents," Robert said. "This is something we do full time. You're not dealing with somebody who is part time. This is what we do." 

John thinks more and more people value that local connection. He compared it to smaller hardware store surviving in the face of competition from Home Depot and Lowe's.

"There's great service when you walk in," John said. "They know you by name. I think people want that back."

January 4, 2017 - 1:28pm

Press release:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, in collaboration with Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, will be offering a CDL Training Program for Genesee County agriculture producers and their employees for Class A and Class B licenses. This training program is designed for producers and farm employees that have some experience with commercial truck operation.

An informational meeting will be held on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension building at 420 E. Main St., Batavia. This meeting will explain how the program works and answer any questions you may have. The required training materials and medical forms will be passed out at this time.

Classroom training dates are Feb. 1 and 2, 7 to 9 p.m., at the Cornell Cooperative Extension building located at 420 E. Main St. in Batavia. Full payment (check or cash) will be required at the Feb. 1st class. The cost for Class A is $625 and the cost for Class B is $475.

Class size is limited. Registration is required and will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Jan. 23rd or until the class is full.

For more information or to register, contact Jan Beglinger at 585-343-3040 x 132 or Brandie Schultz at ext. 101.

January 3, 2017 - 11:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bank of castile, business, Le Roy, news.

castiel2017mickeyhyde_4x5.jpgTompkins Bank of Castile has promoted Mickey Hyde to vice president, branch manager of the Le Roy branch.

Hyde has been with Tompkins for over 13 years. In his work managing the Le Roy branch, Hyde concentrates on developing relationships with small businesses throughout the community as well as tailoring a wide variety of personal banking solutions to our local customers.

“Mickey has done a phenomenal job as our Le Roy branch manager,” said Diane Torcello, senior vice president, community banking. “He has a strong commitment to helping members of the Le Roy community with their personal and business related finances, and Tompkins Bank of Castile is lucky to have him on our team.”

Hyde is very involved in the community, serving as the chair for the steering committee for Leadership Genesee, on the Junior Achievement Advisory Board, and as a member of the Rochester Press-Radio Club. He is also a member of the Le Roy Moose Club, the LPS Kiwanis and the Sons of the American Legion. He volunteers in many capacities with Le Roy Central School, such as in Junior Achievement, Lunch with Leaders, Mock Interviews, Career Day and the Le Roy Job Fair. Hyde has been inducted into both the Genesee Community College and the Pavilion Central School’s Hall of Fame. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Eckerd College.

He and his wife, Toni, live in Le Roy with their two daughters, Naomi and Samantha.

December 30, 2016 - 11:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in p.w. minor, batavia, business, news.

pwminordec292016.jpg

The p.w. minor factory was open last night for a "friends and family night" with tours, refreshments and a chance to buy a new pair of p.w. minor shoes.

The event was part of p.w. minor's rollout of new product lines, the Abram Boots and Batavia Boots and Shoes.

Above, CEO Pete Zeliff shows off a pair of Patriot boots to Brian Kemp. And below, Ron DiSalvo, the former owner of DiSalvo's Shoes, a retail outlet he operated in Downtown Batavia from 1967 to 2007.

Retail shoe sales are returning to Downtown Batavia through a partnership between p.w. minor and Charles Men's Shop.

pwminordec292016-2.jpg

December 26, 2016 - 12:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, STAMP, business, GCEDC.

The timeline has been pushed back, but expectations are still high for the eventual success of 1366 Technologies, the Bedford, Mass.-based solar wafer maker that anticipates eventually creating 1,000 new jobs in Genesee County.

Even as the process moves along slowly, 1366 continues to go forward.

Last week, the company announced a new record in solar power efficiency for a wafer in their product category; in August it unveiled a new beveled edge on its wafer, which helps retain wafer strength while keeping the wafer very thin.

These breakthroughs will help further reduce the cost of the energy produced by solar panels that use 1366's wafers.

The stated goal of 1366 is to help make the production of electricity from solar cheaper than electricity produced by coal.

That might have seemed like a moonshot-ambition when plans to locate 1366's manufacturing plant in the Town of Alabama were first announced two years ago, but the cost of solar energy has dropped by two-thirds in recent years and there are parts of the world now where solar arrays are producing electricity at a cost below that of coal.

In the rapidly evolving technology field, it might seem like delays in getting a new plant open would cause the business owners to worry about losing precious time, but that isn't the case, according to a spokeswoman for 1366.

"I’m sure you’ve noted this, but our path to commercial success has been methodical from day one," Laureen Sanderson said. "It’s one of the reasons why we’re now in a position to scale in a big way. It’s incredibly important to us that we’re careful stewards of all resources sent our way – private and public – and we think we’ve done a good job of balancing the demands to get to market quickly while taking what we see as essential steps to remove all risk – like getting a customer contract in place before a factory is even built."

The cost reductions achieved by the solar industry so far are largely incremental and the result of increasing scale, not big improvements in the technology. The silicon wafers used in solar panels today are made the same way solar wafers have been made for 40 years. The 1366 process is radically different.

Because the company is built around patented, proprietary technology and processes, officials believe they will come to market with a disruptive and competitive advantage whenever they ramp up to full-scale production.

"Direct Wafer technology is a singular achievement," Sanderson said. "We’re the first and only company to solve this manufacturing challenge. There are many great solar innovations out there but they’re in labs. Science projects. It takes years to move from the lab to the factory floor; most ideas never do. What we’ve achieved isn’t easy and the industry knows that."

What exactly is delaying groundbreaking at the new technology park in Alabama, WNY STAMP, isn't clear.

When we've asked Steve Hyde -- CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center and the first advocate for a technology park in Genesee County more than a decade ago -- about the delays, he says everybody is continuing to diligently work on the process; there is ongoing progress, and he quotes one of his favorite phrases, "Economic development is a marathon. It isn't a sprint."

A year ago, officials expected to break ground in the spring. In September, Hyde said there would be a groundbreaking in the fall. Now, the earliest estimate is this coming spring.

Reached this morning, Hyde said infrastructure and construction bidding will start after the first of the year. Water service and the main entrance road will be bid out first. 

"2017 will be a busy year for construction," Hyde said. 

Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366, told E&E News earlier this year that he expects to be up and running at STAMP by the end of 2017. Van Mierlo reportedly told E&E that "permitting and red tape" have slowed progress.

"We're moving," he said. "It's certainly not moving as rapidly as one might hope." 

"It's going to be a stretch," he added. "The end of the year rather than the beginning. We definitely want to be in construction next year."

The reason everyone remains so upbeat about the prospects of 1366 is it seems like the company has charted a solid business model built on breakthrough technology.

This isn't PepsiCo trying to enter an already crowded Greek yogurt sector with a barely differentiated product and hoping marketing and supply chain alone could win. This is a company entering an emerging industry with growing demand and a process that will substantially reduce the cost of production.

"Nobody is close. We can produce the wafer at 30 cents a wafer," van Mierlo told E&E News. "Even at today's prices, you are still very profitable. At today's prices, nobody else is profitable. That is the point.

"There's no false modesty here," he added. "Our technology is truly revolutionary when it comes to reducing costs."

In his best-selling business book, "Zero to One," venture capitalist Peter Thiel says new businesses should be built around innovations that are a 10-times improvement over anything currently in the market. 1366 seems to be hitting that mark.

"The Direct Wafer process is a dramatic improvement over the way wafers are manufactured today and it’s specific to us," Sanderson said. "(We achieve a) 50-percent reduction in cost and two-thirds energy reduction over conventional (production) methods. Better yet is the product – which costs less and uses less (energy) to make, doesn’t require any tradeoffs in performance."

That's why the recent efficiency tests were so important. 

Efficiency is the measure of how much sunlight that hits a solar wafer is converted into electricity. The 1366 wafer was tested in conjunction with new technology from a partner company, Hanwha Q CELLS Co. Ltd., of Seoul, South Korea.

While there is other solar technology that has achieved higher efficiency, that isn't the norm in the industry.

"In a head-to-head comparison with standard high-performance multicrystalline (HPM) wafers, we exceeded the average performance of that HPM reference group," Sanderson said. "And there are more gains to be had through new wafer features that are possible because we’re able to work at the melt level. There’s no other company in the world able to do that."

In the startup world, the common advice, and the practice often most attractive to potential investors is a company that aims at a specific market segment, an achievable target that promises growth.

For 1366, their approach is to make only wafers (compared to Solar City, opening in Buffalo, that makes not just the wafer, but the entire solar panel and even handles installation) and sell them to companies on an international market that will make panels for industrial solar installations.

That's a very specific market, and 1366 already has customers lined up, most notably, Hanwha, their partner in the recent efficiency tests. The company has also secured an investment from silicon supplier Wacker Chemie.

Silicon, of course, is the key ingredient in making solar wafers. It's a derivative of sand, but unlike the process used to make silicon wafers for four decades, which involves shaving down silicon ingots into the appropriate shape and thickness, 1366 wafers are poured from molten silicon, like glass is made, using techniques developed at MIT.

This is why the wafers that will be made in Genesee County will cost less and produce less waste.

A key reason 1366 picked STAMP as its eventual manufacturing home is the availability of low-cost hydropower, itself an environmentally friendly, renewable energy source. That will also make it easier for 1366 to keep production costs down.

The proximity to Buffalo, however, has invited comparisons between 1366 and Solar City, which is opening at Riverbend and has been an ongoing source of speculation and controversy, but 1366 and Solar City are really very different companies. 

Solar City, as noted, is a vertically integrated manufacturer and distributor -- so much so that company Chairman Elon Musk has merged Solar City with Tesla, his company that makes electric cars. Musk wants to control the entire energy supply chain for his vehicles, from converting to solar energy to powering the batteries that Telsa makes, too.

A big part of Solar City's business model has long been residential solar installations, a market that has been seemingly dependent on state and federal tax subsidies, subsidies that have come under criticism and may not last under the Trump Administration.

While Trump campaigned on a promise to save coal jobs, every cabinet appointment he's made so far, notably Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon for secretary of state, and Rick Perry, for the Department of Energy, are hardly friendly to coal. They're interest lies closer to natural gas, currently coal's primary competitor for electricity generation, but that also wouldn't seem to bode well for backers of solar power.

Sanderson said 1366 isn't worried.

"Solar is a global industry and it’s growing rapidly," Sanderson said. "That’s not changing. Our technology will further support this growth as we continue the trend of costs coming down. We help to make solar even more accessible and we want to support this global growth with U.S. manufacturing and U.S. jobs."

There's still plenty of R&D work to do on solar, Sanderson noted, and 1366 received early-stage R&D funding from the Department of Energy.

"It’s important to keep in mind that while we’re a solar company, we’re also a manufacturer," Sanderson said. "We’re looking forward to working with the next administration to create U.S. manufacturing jobs."

In this case, of course, U.S. manufacturing jobs should translate into Genesee County manufacturing jobs. Time will tell.

December 23, 2016 - 11:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in red osier, Stafford, news, business.

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Steve Foster and Tim Adams, owners of the Red Osier restaurant, dedicated the month of November to charity for the local community.

The restaurant has always been closed on Thanksgiving, but this year, they opened for business, with many staff members donating their time to work; all the proceeds from meals served that day were donated to local charities.

During the month, the restaurant also raised $7,965 for Genesee Cancer Assistance. Foster and Adams added their own money to the pot and today turned over a $10,000 check.

Red Osier also donated two truckloads of food to the Le Roy Food Pantry.

Above, Red Osier staff members with some of the clothing items, including socks and underwear, collected for local donation.

Submitted photo.

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