Unifrax Showcases Investments in Tonawanda Manufacturing Facilities
The two major construction projects will help Unifrax meet global demand, increase capacity and streamline manufacturing processes for products used in transportation emissions control applications.
During a presentation and plant tour attended by local and state government officials, local development agencies, and utility representatives, Unifrax recently showcased investments and upgrades completed at two of its manufacturing facilities in Tonawanda, N.Y. Unifrax thanked agencies including National Grid for their partnership in supporting Unifrax’s successful growth Western New York.
John C. Dandolph, Unifrax president and CEO, discussed two major construction projects to help the company meet global demand, increase capacity and streamline manufacturing processes for products used in transportation emissions control applications. The two projects include the new manufacturing line at the Unifrax Firetower Drive complex in Tonawanda, which increases plant capacity by 50%. The expansion facilitates growth and increases capacity to serve global customers supplying emissions control devices to automotive, commercial trucking, and off-road vehicle manufacturers.
National Grid awarded an economic development grant of $500,000 to help Unifrax expand the facility and upgrade electric service and infrastructure to accommodate the new line. Total electric infrastructure costs are estimated at $2.3 million; the total project cost was approximately $33 million. Completed in late 2017, the Firetower Drive complex is 265,000 sq ft with 321 employees.
The second project includes a new building at 55 Pirson Parkway, adjacent to the Firetower Drive complex. The new building holds what is reportedly the largest polycrystalline emissions control support mat manufacturing line in the world, outside of Japan. The $34 million project includes an 85,000-sq-ft building and manufacturing line, new office space, loading bays and process rooms. The new facility is complete and started production in April. According to Unifrax, products made at Pirson Parkway are the first ever manufactured outside of Japan.
The Pirson Parkway project also received a National Grid economic development grant of $500,000 to support electric service upgrades and the installation of new electric infrastructure including transformers. This project has created 22 new positions at Unifrax to date.
“Unifrax has seen significant growth and an increase in demand for our products used in emissions control devices for vehicles,” said Dandolph. “The expansion and new manufacturing facility provides the increased production capacity we need to meet the growing demand from customers around the world. These products will be an important part of our portfolio for many years to come. By continuing to invest in our facilities, we are demonstrating our commitment to our customers, our employees and our communities. Partners like National Grid are essential to this growth, and we wanted to take time to say thank you.”
“We’re eager to work with customers who, like Unifrax, invest in their facilities and undertake major economic development projects,” said Ken Kujawa, regional director for National Grid. “Our programs are intended to encourage economic growth and energy efficiency, which is good for Unifrax, and good for the region.”
National Grid also provided Unifrax $323,000 in energy-efficiency incentives for a variety of projects, including those related to lighting, heat recovery and compressed air. These projects will result in an estimated annual energy savings of 2.8 million kilowatt hours. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics, that’s approximately enough energy to power 265 U.S. homes.
For more information, visit www.unifrax.com.