Supporting Global Growth

By Dave Bertola

On June 14 Unifrax LLC invited elected officials, media and guests to see its new $34 million, 85,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, which was aided by National Grid economic development grants and energy efficiency incentives.

Tonawanda, N.Y.-based Unifrax, which makes insulation products for vehicles’ emissions control devices, flipped the switch on manufacturing operations at the new facility in April. Last year, the company invested $33 million to double production capacity at an existing, nearby plant that employs 321 people. The expansions were necessary to meet increased worldwide demand for Unifrax products.

To support the expansions, National Grid provided a combined $1 million in Capital Investment Incentives to support electrical service upgrades. The energy efficiency incentives covered a variety of projects, including those for lighting, heat recovery and compressed air, to name a few.

Unifrax has operations in 13 countries. The new facility in Tonawanda employs 22 people, and makes a ceramic fiber product that resembles thick cotton padding. It is inserted into catalytic converters for gas sealing and insulation.

Unifrax president and CEO John Dandolph said that access to low-cost power and Unifrax’s National Grid partnership allowed the company to choose to expand operations in western New York instead of elsewhere.

“These two facilities have been the focus of our investing over the last few years, and we’re really proud to say that,” said Dandolph, who thanked National Grid for the grants and energy efficiency incentives.

“Unifrax has been a model in terms of energy efficiency and implementation,” said National Grid’s regional manager Ken Kujawa. “They’re very aggressive with improvements.”

Kujawa said the Unifrax projects are a great example of  how National Grid economic development programs help to reduce capital costs, and our work on the energy efficiency front helps customers keep operating costs competitive. He also acknowledged how National Grid jurisdiction managers, economic development and energy efficiency teams work together to ensure that customers have access to our full complement of incentives and programs to support business expansions.

More information on National Grid economic development programs can be found at www.shovelready.com

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