New owners, employees, community leaders celebrate the saving of a Batavia institution
The employees are happy. Local officials are happy. Pete and Andy are happy. Everybody's happy.
Even the costume designers for the hit HBO series Empire Boardwalk are happy (at least we assume so -- they'll still be able to order p.w. minor shoes for the show).
A Batavia institution, along with 70 local jobs were saved by two local businessmen. Today, speaker after speaker praised Pete Zeliff and Andrew Young for stepping forward just a month ago when they heard the 150-year-old shoe company was closing to buy it and keep it going.
Zeliff and Young plan to do more than just keep the doors open. They vow to expand the business and create more jobs in Batavia.
"The struggles of this company are over," Young said. "We're going to make it work, OK. Once again, we'll make this company the epitome of 'Made in America.' "
They've gotten some help from Empire State Development to help make the purchase possible.
Regional Director Vincent Esposito announced ESD is making available $450,000 from the agency's Excelsior Jobs Program. To qualify, Zeliff and Young had to pledge to create jobs and make a significant capital investment in the company.
Young and Zeliff were also planning to apply for $269,000 in tax abatements from the Geness County Economic Development Center, but that application was tabled Monday on the advice of the agency's attorney.
The attorney is researching the matter further, according to Ray Cianfrini, chair of the Legislature as well as a GCEDC board member. But it appears that so long as Zeliff is a member of GCEDC board, p.w. minor can't receive assistance from GCEDC.
Zeliff has a big decision to make -- resign from the board and apply for the tax relief, or stay on the board and move p.w. minor forward without any further tax breaks.
Zeliff said he's made no decision yet and offered little insight into his thought process on the matter. He did note that serving on the GCEDC board is a volunteer position. Directors are not paid.
Former GCEDC Board Chairman Charlie Cook, CEO of Liberty Pumps, resigned from the board when it came time for his company to expand and Liberty applied for assistance from GCEDC.
Today, Cianfrini spoke at the press conference -- really a celebration -- at p.w. minor's facility on Treadeasy Way.
"Today is not only a great day for p.w. minor and all of its employees," Cianfrini said. "It's a great day for all of Genesee County. We need to recognize how fortunate we are to have people like Pete Zeliff and Andy Young, who are dedicated to economic development, here in Genesee County, who are willing to get personally involved in economic development."
City Councilman John Canale recalled touring the p.w. minor factory on State Street when he was a child, and talked about how he grew up with the company being an ever-present part of the community his entire life.
"p.w. minor is an icon," Canale said. "It's a Batavia institution. When I found out that institution would no longer be in business, I felt like I had just read the obituary of someone that I knew and loved in this community. Today makes it a very happy day, in that two guys with a bit of ambition and a whole lot of entrepreneurial spirit decided this institution needs to continue in this community."
After the speeches, attendees were invited on guided tours of the plant to see how shoes are made in Batavia.
A few lucky people even got to see the shoe sent to the costume designers of Boardwalk Empire.
With media around, a couple of employees demurred at being interviewed, and at one point, as a worker was surrounded by photographers, Young asked her, "are you mad at me (for bringing the media over)?" Another employee nearby spoke up, "How could we ever be mad at you? You saved us."
The average p.w. minor employee has been with company 24 years.
Andrew Young and Pete Zeliff.
The style of shoe sent to the set of Boardwalk Empire.
UPDATE: After the jump, a press release from Gov. Cuomo.
Whether or not you agree with the whole tax abatement issue, this is very great news for Batavia. And I want a pair of those boots.
Who is that handsome devil in the first pic after the article wearing the blue shirt in the back recording the whole thing on his iphone 5? :)
It was a VERY exciting day today. Now that all the hoopla is over, it's time for us to roll up out sleeves and get to work, not that we were not doing that already :) We have a truly amazing workforce in place right now, and we will be a fortune 500 company in no time :)
Thanks so much again to Peter and Andrew for this opportunity. This cannot be said enough.
While running a rental property company that continually brings down neighborhoods and communities around the properties.It makes it quite clear that PW minor will be in trouble in the future also . Then of course he could give some jobs to some of those he rents to, considering his rental interview skills are that of a landlord who does not care who he rents to, will transpire into an owner who doesn't care who works for him either , that will bury a company struggling to hold onto its identity.
101 summit sound familiar
look up the owner of the rental management company
also look up code violations ,
and finally google, Deshawn Butler , a fine past tenant of AY's famous 101 summit property
Same old same old
time to rid the government of greedy good ole boys that hand out benefits to those who rent from their properties
Howard and I want to buy some Boardwalk Empire boots, too. Way cool.
Another taxpayer funded deal for Genesee County! This has become the new norm... announce that the business is closing down, or moving out of the state and get financial aid and tax breaks. aka Corporate Welfare.
I vaguely recall a grade school field trip to what must have been the p.w. minor factory. I remember seeing workers use tabletop machines to construct the shoes. It's good to see shoemaking is still alive in Batavia. From what I see online, the company is putting out a solid assortment of shoes including a lot of comfort walking shoes and casual-dress shoes. Not much too fancy or flashy. Perhaps the shoes are solidly made. It's kind of hard to overlook that most all of their shoes are being marketed at premium prices. A lot of pairs are being advertised online north of $150.