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Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Dairy farmers urged to apply for grants to form profit teams for their farms

post by Billie Owens in agriculture, business, dairy

Press release:

The New York Farm Viability Initiative strongly encourages dairy farmers to apply now for $2,500 grants to form dairy profit teams for their farm.

Ron Robbins, owner of North Harbor Dairy in Sackets Harbor and a NYFVI board member said “Right now, with milk prices so good, is the time to think about improvements. You want to maximize your yields, while continuing to manage your costs. The right team of experts, all chosen by you, can help you see where the opportunities are. Lining up your money now, while it’s available, is a smart move.”

Robbins went on to say “I understand that taking that first step can be challenging. It’s hard to step back from the daily priorities and share with others the big picture of your operations.”

Profit teams are a well-proven concept in New York. The state’s farmers have been using this approach, sometimes called advisory teams, successfully for the last 10 years.

NYFVI is honored to have been entrusted with a legislative appropriation through the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to help dairy farmers who haven’t used profit teams get started.

NYFVI Managing Director David Grusenmeyer added “I hope more farms will enroll and utilize the funds available to them. Over the years I’ve seen such great results from this approach. In many cases the work from these teams has literally saved a business.

"The funds are directed solely by the farmer; some teams are improving herd health, others are focused on milk quantity. Some are even working with financial advisors to develop succession plans. It’s all up to the farmer to decide.”

The simple one-page application for a Dairy Profit Team grant can be found at www.nyfvi.org

Friday, August 15, 2014 at 9:50 am

Diner in Village of Corfu moving to new location near Pembroke High School

post by Howard B. Owens in business, corfu, pembroke

Linda's Diner in the Village of Corfu is moving.

The Genesee County Planning Board approved a proposal submitted by Pembroke resident Linda Richley to convert a single-family residence at 8783 Allegheny Road into a restaurant.

The location is just south of Pembroke High School.

The new Linda's Diner will be build inside a 1,176-square-foot, ranch-style home built in 1959.

Richley said this morning that it was her son and daughter who encouraged her to move.

The location is strategically located near the busy intersection of routes 5 and 77, close to Yancey's Fancy cheese shop and Pembroke HS, Richley said.

Her daughter would like to eventually add ice cream to the menu and her son already operates a BBQ catering business, so the location would give him a place to set up and cook pulled pork and ribs when he isn't at a client's location.

"It's more their idea than mine," Richley said, but she is looking forward to the family owning its own location after renting for all these years.

The plans approved by the planning board call for 25 parking spaces on the lot.

Richley purchased the 1.1-acre parcel from the Town of Pembroke, which acquired it when they bought lland for the town park.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm

New owners, employees, community leaders celebrate the saving of a Batavia institution

post 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.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 9:09 am

Keeping customers coming back has helped Southside Deli thrive for 25 years

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Ellicott Street, Southside Deli

Standing by a window, toasting a French bread pizza, Jeff Heubusch looked out on sunny Ellicott Street and mused, "sure beats working working in a salt mine."

He then states the obvious with a wry smile. "There's no windows in a mine shaft."

Heubusch should know. He spent 12 years working in a salt mine. He only quit when a mining accident nearly took his life.

His year-long recuperation gave him time to reflect and reassess what he wanted to do with his life.

The son of a miner, Heubusch purchased Southside Deli two years before the accident (today is the 25th anniversary of that purchase). He kept his mining job even as he tried to build the deli business. Digging out the salt of the Earth so motorists could drive on de-iced asphalt offered Heubusch a sense of security not available to entrepreneurs. He didn't want to give up that steady paycheck and good benefits while trying to build a business of his own.

While convalescing, Heubusch said to himself, "Am I going to lay on this couch the rest of my life and live on comp or Social Security disability?"

"Once I was able to get around and be productive, that's when I said, really, 'it's all or nothing.' "

That sense of commitment has stuck with Heubusch now for more than two decades. It's the reason Southside Deli not only survived. It thrived.

One hundred customers a day has become 500. Three employees have become 17. Children who once bought pop and candy at the store now bring their families in for subs and salads.

Born in Wyoming County, Heubusch graduated from Warsaw High School in 1977. He was 17 and couldn't get a job, so he went to work in his mother's upholstery business.

When he turned 18, he got his first job in a salt mine.

He was laid off, rehired, laid off and rehired again a couple of times over the next few years. During that time he also worked for U.S. Gypsum and Le Roy Machine.

He bought a house in Batavia, and when he started working in the mine again, his daily commute took him down Ellicott Street.

Every day, he would drive past Southside Deli (Heubusch kept the name from the previous owner; In the 19th Century, it was Ebling Meat Market and the location has always been some sort of market). 

On the second floor of the building is a balcony. As he drove by each day, Heubusch would see a for sale sign hanging from the balcony rail.

That got his mind working.

"I'd see it and I'd think to myself, 'man, I'd love to work for myself.' I kept seeing that and it kept fueling my idea of what I would do if I owned that."

There's a reason working in a salt mine is a metaphor in our culture's lexicon for arduous work. It's hard labor.

In flush times, Heubusch worked 10 to 12-hour days, seven days a week.

"There were days I never saw daylight."

One day, finally, he called a realtor and got the ball rolling.

Escrow closed Aug. 10, 1989. Heubusch opened Southside Deli for the first time under his ownership four days later.

The business needed a lot of work, he said. The century-old building needed an array of repairs. There was kitchen equipment to replace and Heubusch wanted to expand the deli.

"I knew the deli had potential. It was a great concept, but he (the previous owner) wasn't a hands-on guy. I knew if I worked it, I could bring it to life."

There was nothing easy about those early years, said Heubusch, who had no prior food service experience.

Besides keeping his job in the salt mine, Heubusch and his family (his daughter Cassandra was 4 years old at the time) lived in the apartment above the store.

"That's the only way I could do it."

Cassandra rode her skates through the aisles and learned to ring out deli customers by the time she was 6.

Then came the mining accident.

He was at the bottom of a mine shaft and it closed up on him. Heubusch suffered a pair of broke legs, a broken back and nerve damage.

"To me, it was a life-threatening experience. It all could have ended that day."

He required multiple surgeries, a year of at-home convalescence, seven years of physical therapy and 20 years of chiropractors.

To see him work in his store today, you would never guess his body had been through such trauma. 

"This place did help me, both mentally and physically."

So what's the secret to his success?

Heubusch said it's easy: hard work, good food and a singular focus on keeping customers happy.

A customer complaint feels like a failure, Heubusch said.

He takes a lot of pride in how well his deli team works together to take orders quickly, move fast and deliver the right sub or wrap made well and with alacrity. It's timing and attention to detail.

"I like being known as the place with the best subs. The best meats, the best salads. That's our niche. People can go anywhere else and buy pop, groceries or beer, but you can't buy a Southside Deli sub anywhere else. If you've been raised on Southside, nobody can match it."

The best measure of success, Heubusch said, is the customer who comes back.

"It's a good feeling. When you have a customer who's never been in before and they come back and they come back and they come back, it's a good feeling. Then I know I'm doing the right thing."

It sure beats working in a salt mine.

During lunch hour, customers are often lined up four and five deep at the deli counter.

On the wall above the racks of candy are 22 pictures of Little League teams sponsored by Southside Deli. Heubusch said young men come in now and point to pictures of their 8- and 9-year-old selves.

"It sure beats working in a salt mine."

A big part of Southside's lunch business comes from workers calling in their orders for pick up.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 8:46 am

'The Vac Shop' owner passionate about vacuum cleaners

post by Daniel Crofts in batavia, business, The Vac Shop

Bob Youll's business sucks -- in a good way.

A lifelong Batavia resident, Youll has been running "The Vac Shop," at 329 Ellicott St. in the city, since 1991. He attributes the longevity of his business to perseverance, word of mouth and steady business.

"Off the top of my head, I'd say I get between 30 and 50 regular customers," Youll said. "Though it does fluctuate from year to year due to people moving, changing jobs, etc."

Youll will take care of anything from major motor repairs to changing belts and cleaning out clogging.

From time to time, he will repair other household items -- such as blenders, lamps and heaters -- as well. He also sells used and rebuilt vacuums, as well as the occasional new vacuum.

Formerly employed by a Batavia catalog store (now closed), Youll got his vacuum repair training from The Vac Shop's former owner, Joe DeFazio.

"Joe taught me about basic vacuums," he said. "At that time, most of it was self-taught. You would get a machine, take it apart, and see where everything was. Now the Internet also helps in locating parts and the like."

Basically, Youll approaches his work not only with a view to the customer's immediate need, but also with the average consumer's perspective on vacuuming in mind.

"Vacuuming is usually an afterthought," he said. "People want to get it done, and quickly. (When working on repairs) I try to set the machine up for that use."

He also knows the extra details that are better to take care of right away -- such as putting a new belt on the machine -- so that the equipment will not need to be sent back at a later date.

Store hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, call 343-7754.

Photos by Howard Owens.

Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Fans happy to see their favorite band in return of live music at Frost Ridge

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge, Jam at the Ridge, Le Roy

To say Blackberry Smoke rocked the house Saturday night at Frost Ridge might be misconstrued.

There are no reports of windows rattling in the homes of Frost Ridge neighbors.

In fact, a deputy assigned to monitor the decibel levels at Conlon Road and Oatka Trail Road said the noise level never went much above 60 decibels, well below the threshold of 100 set by Judge Robert C. Noonan when he issued an order a few days ago allowing the concert to take place.

The fact is, at the corner of Conlon and Oatka Trail, through most of Blackberry Smoke's set, the crickets were louder than the music.

Blackberry Smoke is billed as an up-and-coming, soon-to-be-big-stars Southern rock/outlaw country band, and if fame is measured by only a few hundred die-hard, rambunctious fans, Blackberry Smoke has already hit the big time.

They did rock the house and the fans raised the roof.

The band is Charlie Starr (lead vocals, guitar), Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals), and Brandon Still (keyboards).

A five-piece combo can make a lot of noise, and inside the Frost Ridge amphitheater at stage level, the band seemed no less loud than their show in the same venue a year ago.

A sound engineer familiar with the venue predicted before the show that the hill between Frost Ridge and the homes of Cleere and Collins (the two plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits against Frost Ridge) would absorb all of the treble and mid-range of the music, while bass tones would bend some and carry over the hill.

The crickets, he said, would be louder.

That certainly seemed to be the case.

In their lawsuit against Frost Ridge, the Cleeres have claimed that they can't sit outside their home on concert nights, the noise is so loud, and that when they try to go inside and close the windows, the walls shake because of the noise.

The Town of Le Roy is pursuing a parallel suit against Frost Ridge.

Both suits allege that live music at Frost Ridge violates local zoning laws, even though the campgrounds owners, Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell, received a previous ruling from the Zoning Board of Appeals that the use is an allowable, prior nonconforming use (grandfathered in).

While the Town of Le Roy is not suing the ZBA, the town board does not agree with that ruling, or does not find it valid. The Cleeres and Collins suit names the ZBA as a co-defendant. 

Delays in the process have prevented a hearing on whether the ZBA decision was filed with the town clerk prior to April 6. That hearing will be held Aug. 21. If it's determined that ZBA decision was filed prior to April 6, it could invalidate the the lawsuits against Frost Ridge on statute of limitations grounds.

Because of the delay of the hearing and the financial toll to Frost Ridge with five previous shows cancelled by court order, Noonan lifted the restraining order for the Blackberry Smoke concert, but barred alcohol sales.

The next scheduled show is at The Ridge NY is Phil Vassar and the Morgan Twins, Aug. 23.

The slide show below also includes photos of Chris Weaver Band, one of Saturday's opening acts.

AUDIO: A recording taken during the concert last night at the corner of Conlon and Oatka Trail (mp3).

A seat front-and-center for the Blackberry Smoke set was auctioned off and $375 was raised for the Le Roy Fire Department. 

The decibel reader employed by a deputy to monitor noise levels at Conlon and Oatka Trail roads.

Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Sports Plus Physical Therapy is newest BID member, grand opening is Aug. 28

post by Billie Owens in announcements, business, sports

Press release:

Sports Plus Physical Therapy, a new member of Batavia's Business Improvement District, is proud to announce its Grand Opening Celebration of its new building at 5 Alva Place, Batavia.

Formerly the Genesee County ARC administrative office building, we're situated at the corner of Alva Place and State Street, right in between the entrance to the movie theatre and Dr. Canzoneri's podiatry office.

The public is invited to attend our open house and ribbon cutting on Thursday Aug. 28, 3-7 p.m. Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Senator Michael Ranzenhofer will be on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony around 4 p.m.

Refreshments will be served. The building has undergone extensive renovation, and we're excited for you all to meet our staff!

Sports Plus Physical Therapy is open daily, including Monday and Wednesday evenings, under the direction of Keith Bailey, PT. We pride ourselves in friendly and expert care of orthopedic and neurologic conditions.

Common conditions we encounter in our office include lower back and neck pain, shoulder and rotator cuff problems, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist/hand tendinitis, sciatica, hip and knee pain, ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, post-operative rehabilitation, and much more.

We accept most insurance plans, and treatment can often be started without a physician's prescription. Please contact our office at (585) 343-9496 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm

GCEDC to consider three projects at meeting Tuesday, including Batavia Shoes, LLC

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider three projects at its August 12, 2014, board meeting.

Muller Quaker Dairy is planning to improve its data infrastructure with a new enterprise backup and test environment solution, a project which would retain 143 jobs. The benefitted amount of project the GCEDC board can assist with is $185,000 and the total project incentive request is $14,800 for sales tax exemptions only. The board will consider a final resolution for the project.

Batavia Shoes LLC is planning to purchase the assets, manufacturing facility and client lists of PW Minor, a manufacturer and distributor of leather footwear and orthopedic products located in the City of Batavia. The board will accept the application for the project and consider an initial resolution.

Calamar is planning to build a 117,000-square-foot, three-story building that will house 110 senior apartment units, a lobby and common rooms in the Town of Batavia. The company is investing $11 million which will create up to 200 temporary construction jobs. The board will consider an initial resolution that will set a public hearing for the project.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at noon and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, NY, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College.

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm

P.W. Minor saved by local investors

post 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."

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Students complete week learning about aviation at Genesee County Airport

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, BEA, business, WNY Aviation Adventure Camp

A week of intense study and fun came to an end today for students of the Aviation Adventure Camp.

The annual week-long camp exposes students going into ninth through 11th grade to potential career options in aviation and is held at the Genesee County Airport.

It's sponsored by the Business Education Alliance of Genesee County.

Today's class ended with a short graduation ceremony after participants competed in a final model helicopter flying contest.

This is the fourth year for the camp.

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