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p.w. minor

April 16, 2015 - 1:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor.

The first of the necessary paper is being pushed to move jobs from China to the p.w. minor shoe factory in Batavia with the Ways and Means Committee approval yesterday of a resolution to accept a $750,000 grant from the state to assist the company's local expansion.

The county must accept the grant, which passes through the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. (a branch of Genesee County Economic Development Center), which will become part of a grant and deferred loan program for p.w. minor.

The grant was approved by Empire Development Corps after the agency encouraged p.w. minor to apply for the grant.

The application pledges 80 new local jobs added over a two-year period, but p.w. minor is planning to transfer a total of 100 jobs over time from China to Batavia.

The LDC will package the $750,000 with $125,000 loan from LDC funds to assist p.w. minor in buying shoe-making machinery.

Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC, laid out the terms of the resolution for members of the Ways and Means Committee, who recommended approval of the resolution to the full County Legislature.

Andrew Young, one of the co-owners the New p.w. minor, is also a member of the Legislature, and while he attended Wednesday's meeting, he was not present during the discussion of the resolution.

Young and local entrepreneur Peter Zeliff, purchased p.w. minor after the previous owners announced plans to close the plant, thereby saving dozens of local jobs at Batavia's oldest, continuously running business.

April 6, 2015 - 9:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor.

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that PW Minor, a manufacturer and international distributor of leather footwear and orthopedic products, will bring previously outsourced production work from China back to New York State. The move will create 100 additional jobs at the company’s Batavia facility. This news comes on the heels of the Governor’s announcement in August 2014 that PW Minor, which was scheduled to close on July 31, 2014, will remain open under new local ownership and management, retaining more than 50 manufacturing jobs.

“I am pleased that these jobs are being brought back to New York State, where they belong,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our priority is not only to attract new businesses to New York, but also to ensure that the ones already here continue to grow. PW Minor’s decision to bring jobs back to Western New York will add to the region’s growing reputation as a great place for businesses to thrive and I look forward to their continued success.”

The owner of PW Minor, which was founded by two brothers in 1867 shortly after they returned from fighting in the Civil War, is Batavia Shoes LLC, headed by Andrew Young and Peter H. Zeliff. PW Minor is one of a few remaining shoe manufacturers in the United States and the oldest company in Genesee County.

Andrew Young said, “What an awesome opportunity for us to positively impact our community. The people of PW Minor have stepped it up and my money is on them that they will again. We look forward to growing production in Batavia and adding to the PW Minor family.”

Peter H. Zeliff said, “Bringing our production back to New York is our priority. There will come a day when again we can proudly stamp “Made in America” on each and every pair of shoes with the PW Minor brand name.” We are excited to be a part of the resurrection of this American icon.

PW Minor’s $7.35 million project will automate its processes, allowing the company to close the gap between Batavia and China and thereby granting the company the ability to shutdown overseas operations and bring 100 new jobs to Batavia. Empire State Development (ESD) will provide up to $1.75 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits in return for job creation commitments. This is in addition to the previously awarded $449,505 in 2014. If ESD did not incentivize this project, the company would not be able to close production in China and continue to grow in Batavia.

Howard Zemsky, President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development, said, “PW Minor’s decision to bring jobs back from overseas is a testament to the quality of the region’s workforce and New York State’s welcoming environment for growing a business. It’s great news that more than one hundred employees of this iconic and valued business will continue to make hand-crafted quality shoes in Batavia for years to come.”

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Steve Hyde said, “The Governor and his economic development team at Empire State Development have once again made a significant commitment to Genesee County to bring new jobs and investment to our region. It’s also a belief in the vision and business acumen of Pete Zeliff and Andrew Young in their efforts to restore the rich tradition of PW Minor in our community.”

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer said, “PW Minor’s decision to continue doing business in the City of Batavia and bring jobs back from China is proof positive that Genesee County is a good place to operate a business. With the partnership between Governor Cuomo, Empire State Development and this historic business, the opportunities for Genesee County residents continue to grow.”

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said “As a small-business owner, I know the struggles and successes that New York’s small-business owners face on a daily basis. Locally-owned businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and I am proud to see my business advocacy in Albany materialize. I am thankful to Pete Zeliff and Andrew Young for re-energizing the new PW Minor as an historic mainstay of our Western New York economy.”

Genesee County Chairman Raymond F. Cianfrini said, “Today is a great day for PW Minor and its employees and a great day for Genesee County. Our thanks go out to Peter Zeliff and Andrew Young for saving this historic business when it was on the brink of closure and now, with New York State’s assistance, bringing additional jobs back from overseas. We in Genesee County are fortunate to have these two individuals, as well as the support of Empire State Development, who are committed to economic development and keeping our county vibrant.”

City of Batavia Council President Brooks Hawley said, “P.W. Minor has been a company deep routed in Batavia for well over 100 years and I am thrilled to see their continued growth in our community. Thanks to Empire State Development for the State’s incentives and to the commitment of new, local owners, Andrew Young and Peter Zeliff, PW Minor has a bright future in Batavia.”

February 14, 2015 - 2:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor.

When Pete Zeliff and Andrew Young first walked onto the factory floor of the p.w. minor building on Treadeasy Avenue, they knew nothing about the shoe industry.

"We could tie our own shoes," Young said with a wry smile Friday morning following a tour of the production line with Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

In the six months since Zeliff and Young rescued the 150-year-old shoe factory from closure, the two local businessmen have not only proven quick studies of the shoe business, they've pulled the firm from the brink of an abyss and placed it on the precipice of success.

After his walking tour, Hawley was impressed with what he saw and heard.

"With Pete and Andrew's investment here, and their hard work, the possibility of success in their eyes, their demeanor, and the people I've seen here working today with their smiles, you can see it," Hawley said. "It's great for the local economy, it's great for Western New York, to see people take a chance and that's what these two gentlemen have done. The State of New York ought to use them and p.w. minor as an example of how to be successful."

As neophytes in the shoe business, when Zeliff and Young first sat in their new offices, they wondered, why do shoes that feel good on your feet need to look dowdy and unimaginative?

The p.w. minor speciality are shoes designed and constructed for people with orthopedic needs, but why should orthopedic shoes be frumpy?

"We've been able to, with some stitching and some designs and some beautiful leathers that we're using, to upgrade those shoes," Young said. "The same lasts (forms used to make shoes), same fit, same feel, but it looks way more 'today,' I guess would be the word."

p.w. minor has long had some great-looking shoes in its line -- one shoe was bought as a prop for the former HBO series "Boardwalk Empire," after all -- and there are high-end brands that turn to p.w. minor to shod voguish-minded Wall Street bankers and urban hipsters.

But the persistent image of p.w. minor is for shoes that favor comfort over fad, In recent years, much of the shoe line had the look of something a doctor might prescribe to dowagers or retired postmen.

"When we got here, we were wondering why people who had to wear shoes that they needed for their feet, but they couldn't also look good," Young said.

One of the first of their new hires was a shoe designer out of Michigan who had experience with shoe company turnarounds.

Every shoe the company sells is getting a makeover. The first samples of the new line will make their industry debut at a trade show in Las Vegas.

"This is a company that designed about three shoes in the previous decade and we're going to a show next week where we're going to introduce three dozen shoes," Young said.

Of course, nobody is going to buy shoes if there are no feet on the street selling the revamped shoe lines to retailers and distributors.

The old p.w. minor got rid of the last of its sales staff years ago, Young said. He and Zeliff have hired five new sales reps so far and plan to hire as many as five more.

"That's already paying dividends," Young said. "We need to get our name out there. I think most of the marketplace thought we were basically dead, and there was good reason for that because we sort of were. I think they're starting to see, and they will really see it at this show next week, that we're definitely back."

The total new hires for Zeliff and Young is 16 so far, and Young says there's more to come. Part of the reason to let the media tag along on Friday's tour was to get the word out locally that p.w. minor is truly a new company. It's a place people should want to work, Young said, and Young wants to attract the best local employees.

p.w. minor was also a company that needed to do a better job of meeting the needs of existing customers. To that end, back orders have been cut tremendously. The company has gone from making 80 pair of shoes a day to 160. It used to take 25 to 26 days for a pair of shoes to wind through the production line. On Wednesday, the crew completed a line of shoes in 4.8 days.

That's a lot of change not just for the marketplace to absorb, but it's even been an adjustment for p.w. minor's employees.

There have certainly been some bumps along the way, Young indicated.

"I always say if I had a nickel for every time somebody says that's not the way we used to do things, I wouldn't need to sell any shoes," Young said. "This company was on a trajectory down, steeply down, and we want it to be on a trajectory steeply up. The change is sometimes hard for us to get through and hard to understand and accept. We're making great progress in that regard, but I like to say it's a big ship to turn. It's turning, but it takes some time."

Top photo: From a fit and feel perspective, the two shoes are essentially the same. They're made with the same fasts, but the one of the left uses more attractive leather and an updated design.

Hawley, Zeliff and Young in the leather room at p.w. minor.

Hawley holds another example of a p.w. minor shoe transformed by design and the material used to make it.

A pair of newly designed fashion boots near the end of production.

Soles waiting to become shoes.

A worker making a shoe.

Hawley with Young and Zeliff.

Glue on shoes.

Cork spread on the bottom of a shoe before the sole is attached. The cork helps ensure the comfort of the shoe's wearer.

This all-weather sole is on a shoe made for another company that sells it under its own brand name. Young said he and Zeliff love the sole, but it's only made in England, and p.w. minor's own shoes will be 100-percent made-in-America.

Nearly finished boots on the factory floor.

Zeliff, Hawley and Young with an employee near the end of the production line.

The slide show below is of pictures sent over by Young of some of the shoes that will be making their industry debut in Las Vegas next week.

September 22, 2014 - 9:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, history, hlom, p.w. minor.

Jane Read and Anne Marie Starowitz were at Holland Land Office Museum on Saturday morning setting up a new exhibition about the history of local shoemaker p.w. minor. 

The grand opening of the display is Oct. 2.

Employees and retirees of p.w. minor are invited to a preview at 3 p.m. The public is invited to a ribbon cutting at 6:30 p.m.

Many of the items in the display were provided on loan from The new p.w. minor.

 

August 14, 2014 - 3:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor.

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.

August 9, 2014 - 1:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in Attica, Announcements, cancer, p.w. minor.

Press release:

There will be a benefit for cancer victim Tim Dick at American Legion Post #734 in Attica from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 16. It's at the corner of Market and West Avenue.

The event is being held by his friends at p.w. minor, shoemakers based in Batavia.

There will be entertainment by Elvis impersonator Dutch Derby from 3 to 5 p.m., a concession stand, bake sale, 50/50 raffle and Chinese auction. Raffle items include tickets to Disney World, an 18-speed tandem bike, and lots of baskets.

Tim was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2010 and he goes to Roswell Park Cancer Institute every month for five days of chemotherapy. The only cure is a bone marrow transplant, without which he faces years of chemo.

He has been out of work since 1989 due to an accident that compressed three disks in his neck. His wife just lost her job.

Life has not been good to them so we are reaching out to the community to help this family get through a very tough time.

Tim is a husband, father, grandpa and a friend to anyone. Please join us in this benefit to help raise money to get Tim the help he needs and help with the medical bills.

August 8, 2014 - 2:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor.

We all expected P.W. Minor, one of Genesee County's oldest businesses, to close July 31.

That didn't happen.

Now it looks like the nearly 150-year-old shoemaker will be around for awhile longer yet.

Pete Zeliff and Andrew Young have purchased the assets of P.W. Minor and Sons and hope to soon to acquire rights to the P.W. Minor name so the company can continue selling shoes under that brand.

The new company will operate as Batavia Shoes, LLC, in the interim. 

There will be an official announcement of the deal Thursday, according to an invitation sent to local officials this morning by Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Zeliff is a local businessman known for his love of aviation. He is senior executive vice president and COO of EIF Renewable Energy Holdings, LLC, in Oakfield. He also branched into residential home development this year, building a housing community off Route 5 and Seven Springs Road in Batavia (the first house is nearly finished). Zeliff is a recent appointee to the GCEDC board.

Young is a local real estate broker and investor and was elected last year to the Genesee County Legislature. He is a member of the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., a nonprofit agency of GCEDC.

The details of the purchase have not been released yet, but Zeliff and Young confirmed the purchase is taking place. They said they couldn't say more at this time.

"We're going to run this company going forward and we're going to grow it and expand it," Zeliff said. "Our goal is to bring manufacturing back to Batavia and expand it."

June 13, 2014 - 11:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor.

Executives at P.W. Minor, a locally founded, 147-year-old business, reportedly told employees today that the firm is closing July 31 and the workers will be out of their jobs.

Employees posted about the announcement on Facebook and The Batavian contacted two employees directly. One wouldn't comment, the other confirmed the announcement.

The shoe-manufacturing company was founded in 1867 by two Civil War veterans who originally called their company Minor Brothers Boots and Shoes.

The Batavian e-mailed P.W. Minor's CEO Wally Hinchey at about 6 p.m. seeking comment and has not received a response.

November 8, 2010 - 5:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, p.w. minor, shahla akbari.

IMG_2277.JPG

A young female entrepreneur from Afghanistan recently spent time in Batavia as part of a tour of U.S. businesses. The visit was sponsored by Bpeace and hosted by p.w. minor, the Batavia-based shoe manufacturer located on Treadeasy Avenue.

Shahla Akbari is a 19-year-old shoemaker from Kabul. She started her company with money from her mother, Fatima. Just one year later, Shahla’s shoes have grown so popular she can’t keep up with demand.

Her team currently produces 20 pairs of shoes per day, all by hand. All leather is cut with scissors and all stitching is done with one pedal-operated sewing machine. Outsoles are made from used vehicle tires.

Shahla brought two pair of men’s shoes with her for her visit to p.w. minor.

“The shoes produced by Shahla’s shoe company are extraordinary," said CEO Hank Minor. “The attention to detail and overall quality is amazing, considering they are made completely by hand with no automated machinery.”

The shoes remain at p.w. minor to remind the employees of the possibilities.

“We learned from her — just how much you can do with so little," he said. "It's very inspiring for everyone.”

While at the p.w. minor factory, Shahla actually produced her own pair of shoes. She also spent time with sales and marketing personnel, and learned about branding and how important customer service is.

Bpeace is a nonprofit network of business professionals which volunteers to teach skills to entrepreneurs in conflict-affected countries. The goal is to help them create significant employment for all, and expand the economic power of women.

Fundamentally, Bpeace believes that creating jobs creates peace. So does CEO Minor, who said he and his employees were doing their bit to promote world peace by sharing their knowledge with Shahla, who stayed for four days during the last week of October.

A total of 40 companies in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and California are hosting an Afghan entrepreneur as part of the Bpeace network.

p.w. minor specializes in foot health, offering quality footwear and foot-care products. It is currently under its fourth generation of family ownership and management.

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