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Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Bonduelle named Agricultural Business of the Year

Its expertise in agri-business, along with its high quality standards, has made the the family-run company, Bonduelle, a household name in Europe for canned, frozen and fresh vegetables. It has 47 plants around the world and sells in 100 countries.

Headquartered in France, Bonduelle is a worldwide market leader in prepared vegetables. The recent addition to Western New York has been named the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Business of the Year.

“We are proud to be recognized by the community,” Byron Facility Manager Jim Newcomb said. “Our company is pleased with the local grower base, the skill of the employees and the opportunity to market in the U.S.”

Bonduelle purchased two Genesee County plants in 2012 from the former Allen food processing facilities in Bergen and Oakfield, along with a plant in Brockport. They retained all of the existing full-time staff and employ nearly 800 people in the United States, 400 of whom are full-time workers.

The Bergen plant deals with peas, green beans, sweet corn and carrots, while Oakfield processes green, lima and wax beans, along with butternut squash.

Both locations will produce more than half of the 257 million pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat, vegetables that Bonduelle’s American operations are projected to sell in 2014. The Brockport packaging facility will handle 130 million pounds of processed vegetables.

Bonduelle posts more than $2.5 billion in annual revenues and has invested $1.7 million into the three New York facilities in its first year, upgrading equipment, improving training, as well as ensuring that only the best produce is purchased from family farms within the area.

They work with a network of local growers and the Bergen and Oakfield plants harvest most of their vegetables from within a 30-mile zone. Growing crops in close proximity to freezing facilities allows them to preserve maximum freshness. Since vegetables only travel a short distance from field to plant, they’re frozen just a few hours after harvest, capturing freshness at their peak of maturity.

Bonduelle’s operations are supplied by local growers who are part of more than 130,000 acres contracted by the company, and its team of experts ensure thorough control over every step in the food processing chain, from seeding to packaging.

People are the driving force of Bonduelle. Therefore, it's important to provide them with opportunities to upgrade and hone their skills. Whether it's in farming, production, quality assurance, sales or another sector, the company credits its team members as the company's driving force.

They include longtime Bergen facility employee Newcomb, who started there in 1971 when it was CB Foods, pushing pea carts, and who has worked his way up as the company has changed hands several times. As previously noted, he's now a Bonduelle facility manager.

“I’m excited to be working here, which is hard to believe since I’ve been here since 1971. Bonduelle has invested capital dollars into the facility, bringing money into the community and we are definitely on an upswing,” Newcomb said.

The company has been in the frozen, ready-to-eat vegetables business since 1970. Products are marketed under private-brand labels for U.S. food distributors and supermarket chains, such as Wegmans store-brand frozen vegetables. Its sales team operates on the major retail trade and food services networks.

Bonduelle’s plants, equipped with modern technology, enable flexibility and greater production capacity. The company is poised to grow and increase volume. Their Northeast operations are a prime focus and that means expansion for Genesee County plants.

“We are currently at about 80-percent capacity, which is up from the 65- to 70-percent the plant ran in the past, but we plan to increase capacity even more, as well as introduce new crops,” Newcomb said.

File Photos. Photos by Howard Owens.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 9:00 am

Alex's Place named Service Business of the Year

Alex's Place has been serving mouth-watering ribs, succulent prime rib, perfectly grilled steaks and fresh seafood, along with a blend of American steakhouse specialties and Italian classics to satisfied guests for 25 years.

The winner of the the NY Award at the Taste of Buffalo, the Democrat & Chronicle's Best of Rochester Award, Best Ribs at the Art of Ribs in Lewiston and the Best Ribs at the Roc City Ribfest for the last four years running, Alex's Place is the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce 2013 Service Business of the Year.

Owner Matthew Gray is humbled by the recognition and credits his employees with the success of the restaurant.

“My staff of 50, including an executive chef, eight cooks, four managers and a multitude of servers, bussers and hostesses are the ones who make the restaurant successful every single day,” Gray said. “When I took over the restaurant in 2007, it was an easy transition for me because it was already run so well by the staff.”

Alex's Place has built a loyal following by serving delicious food and providing excellent service. That winning recipe is key to their strategy for growth as they build upon the restaurant's reputation and recruit new customers in Buffalo, Rochester and beyond.

Since Gray, along with his business partner Matthew Boyd, purchased the restaurant, there has been major growth in all areas of the business, including sales. Gray, who handles the marketing, has aggressively marketed and advertised the business by participating in events like the Taste of Buffalo and Roc City Rib Fest. Billboard advertisements along the Thruway have brought customers into the community from all over Western New York.

His joint venture with more than 80 grocery stores throughout the region to sell Alex's Heat-N-Eat Take Home Ribs has been a huge success and has brought more customers into the restaurant and into the community. Their ribs are now available nationwide through their Web site at http://alexsribs.com as well.

The Curbside To Go service that began in 2009 has brought in customers who don't want the traditional sit-down restaurant experience.

Located at 8322 Park Road in the Town of Batavia, the small building started out as a “track” stop for Batavia Downs racers and players in 1988 as a one-room eatery offering classic comfort food. As it grew in popularity, the building became a 100-seat restaurant with an open-kitchen design, yet it has retained the comfortable and cozy atmosphere that diners have come to love.

There are 50 full and part-time staff who serve between 2,500-3,000 guests each week. Some of them have been there since Alex's Place started.

"I have a handful of staff that have been here for 20 years or more," Gray said. "One of my servers, Kelly McDonald, has been here for 26 years. That says something about the business, it's like family here."

Alex's Place is also dedicated to being a good neighbor and actively supporting the community. Last year they held fundraisers for a number of charities, including Hospice and the Russell Bugbee Memorial Culinary Scholarship.

Last April the staff had a fundraiser in which all the servers donated half of their tips from a busy Saturday night to the Justice for Children Advocacy Center, raising more than $2,500.

They support several nonprofit groups, including the WNY Aviation Camp, St. Joseph's School, the City of Batavia Community Garden and the Business Education Alliance. Alex's Place was awarded the 2013 Business Partner of the Year by the BEA. Managers are active members of Leadership Genesee and participate in the United Way Day of Caring as well.

“We are committed to getting the word out that Batavia is a destination for food and entertainment that is worth driving to,” Gray said.

By using a combination of radio, TV, newspaper, billboard and online advertising, as well as working with festivals in Buffalo and Rochester, 60 percent of Alex's guests are now from outside of Genesee County.

Photos by Howard Owens

Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Former Marines in Batavia open personal defense training business

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business

The way Jeff McIntire and Matt Smith see it, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave their business idea a nice boost when he pushed through the SAFE Act.

Cuomo, with the stroke of a pen, created more reasons for people interested in self defense to buy guns.

And many of those people have never been properly trained on how to handle a weapon, how their particular weapon works and exactly what to do if confronted with a dangerous situation.

"The SAFT Act put a rush on gun stores," McIntire said. "A lot of people go to buy a weapon and you're in the store and you hear them say, 'I want to buy a shotgun.' 'Well, you ask, why do you want to buy a shotgun?' 'I don't know. I just want to buy a shot gun.' They ask all sorts of questions. That SAFE Act completely allowed us a reason to be in business because people need to know this."

McIntire, Smith and Dave Eick are combat veterans and experienced Marine Corps instructors. Together, they've opened MandS Tactical Solutions with an office in the Harvester Center.

They teach a variety subjects around personal protection and civilian weapons use, shotgun personal defense, home defense, pistol defense, rape prevention and improvised weapons defense.

Opening a civilian defense course business just seemed like a logical step for the former Marines, McIntire said.

"You sit back and think, what am I going to do with an infantry background in the civilian world? What am I going to do? Why wouldn't we do this? We get to go to the range every day and do something we love. We know this more intimately than anything else."

McIntire and Smith met their first year in the Marines and served much of their career together. They were both wounded by an IED in Iraq in 2007 and both received Purple Hearts.

They've also trained other Marines in combat techniques.

McIntire grew up in Batavia, as did Eick. Smith is from St. Louis.

What they teach civilians consists of proper weapon handling, safety and care, but they also teach combat mindset.

If you're going to own a gun for self-defense, you better be prepared to use it. Just holding it in the hopes an intruder might retreat could be more dangerous than not having a gun at all.

"If I can show it to a person who is breaking in, maybe I can show it to them and maybe they'll run away," said McIntire taking on the role of a new, first-time gun owner. "Well, what happens if they don't? 'Well, I don't know what to do.' That's where we come in."

The combat mindset is necessarily about how to pull the trigger. It's also about not pulling the trigger.

"If we teach you everything we need to teach you, you won't ever need to pull the trigger because hopefully you will deter the intruder," Smith said. "The intruder will be like 'maybe I need to leave. This person is serious.' "

If you don't learn that mindset and you do need to pull the trigger and you freeze up, Smith said, "you might not be around much longer."

"We train people so that hopefully they never have to pull trigger," Smith added. "With the training, if comes down to that, they will know exactly what to do."

The training, in fact, may help a person later with the law. Your best defense if you shot a person who is a threat to you is if you can explain what you did, how you did it, why you did it and your confidence that you had no other option.

"The law may say you're justified, but you might not want to take that shot," McIntire said. "We're not teaching anybody to shoot anybody. We're teaching you to be prepared. We're teaching you how to go through the steps until you reach the point where you feel your life is in danger. Hopefully it helps a person, if they ever get in that situation, where they can intelligently say, 'I pulled the trigger. I shot him because I had no other choice.' "

McIntire and Smith are not offering, per se, a set course list. They have a list of topics they cover, subjects they can teach, but they like to meet individually with their clients and make sure they understand their needs.

Instruction can be in a group environment or one-on-one, especially if a client needs or desires privacy.

"We ask, you want to do this? OK, what do you want to do with it?" Smith said. "They might want to take something out. They might want to put something in. We try to customize it rather than just what an overall person might want.

"We pride ourselves the fact that we're not a cookie-cutter organization," he added.

For more information, visit the MandS Tactical Web site.

Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 10:23 am

Baskin Livestock named Conservation Farm of the Year

post by Howard Owens in agriculture, Baskin Livestock, Bethany, business

Press release:

The Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors has announced the selection of Baskin Livestock as the 2013 Genesee County Conservation Farm of the Year. Baskin Livestock will be the honored guests of the District at the Celebrate Agriculture Dinner on March  22th at the Alexander Firemen’s Recreation Hall.  They will be formally presented with their award at that time.

Baskin Livestock is owned and operated by Bill Baskin and Susan Blackburn. Bill purchased the former James Hume Jr. Dairy Farm from Chester Ptak in 1992. Since that time, Bill and Susan have acquired several neighboring farms (John Gardner, 1996; James Hume – remainder, 2001; Kruszelnicki, 2001; Don Norton, 2005; Woodhouse, 2007; Ethel Cook, 2009) and now own a total of 1,748.66 acres in the towns of Alexander, Bethany and Batavia. Of that total 1,157 acres is cropland. Most of the cropland acreage is fenced for pasture. Little Tonawanda Creek runs through the farm. With only a few exceptions, livestock is fenced out of the stream channels. Baskin Livestock became a District Cooperator in January of 1993. They started working on a plan for grazing in 1995. A grazing plan was written by Art Hanson of Western New York Crop Management (WNYCMA) in April 2001. Baskin Livestock is a medium Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) and has a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) completed by WNYCMA in July of 2002. Baskin Livestock is active in the Agricultural Environmental Management Program (AEM) .

They raise dairy replacement heifers, beef, and quarter horses. Recent conservation practices installed with district assistance include heavy use area protection (bedded pack), waste transfer system, roof runoff structure, compost facility, and waste storage facilities.  Baskin Livestock has one of the most extensive grazing (pasture) systems in the County.

Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 9:57 am

Insource receives urgent care designation

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, Insource Urgent Care

Press release:

Insource Urgent Care Center of Batavia Receives Certified Urgent Care Designation from the Urgent Care Association of America

Insource Urgent care Center of Batavia, located in the Batavia City Centre, has received the Certified Urgent Care designation which distinguishes it as a true urgent care center.  The clinic provides patients with walk-in, extended-hour medical attention with licensed providers for a large scope of medical conditions and has met all of the Urgent Care Association of America’s established criteria.

The health care environment is changing and it is becoming more and more important for patients to understand their treatment options.

Urgent care is a convenient and viable option for medical conditions that cannot wait for a scheduled appointment with a primary care physician.  Insource Urgent Care accepts unscheduled, walk-in patients during all hours of operation.

When a medical condition cannot be handled by a patient’s regular doctor – such as unexpected cuts, burns, sprains or fractures that do not require a visit to the emergency department, Insource Urgent Care is equipped with x-ray, laboratory services and a licensed provider is always available to perform minor procedures like casting and suturing.

Urgent care fills the gap between primary care and hospital emergency rooms, offering increased convenience and cost savings. 

With its certification, Insource Urgent Care and the Urgent Care Association of America demonstrate their commitment toward providing patients with access to appropriate levels of care.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Nik Wallenda to perform twice daily shows at Darien Lake this summer

post by Howard Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park, nik wallenda

Press release:

With decades of experience captivating audiences around the world, aerialist and high-wire artist Nik Wallenda will spend the Summer of 2014 high above Darien Lake. Heralded around the world as “King of the High Wire,” Nik’s high-flying stunts have landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records eight times and his 2012 walk across Niagara Falls made him a household name across the globe.

Darien Lake and presenting sponsor Tim Horton’s Café and Bake Shop announced today that the internationally renowned daredevil will star in “Nik Wallenda: Beyond the Falls,” featuring the Wallenda Family. The 60-minute thrill spectacular will be produced by Nik himself, exclusively for Darien Lake.

Showing twice daily in the 1,800-seat Galaxy Theatre from June 23 through Sept. 1st (dark Mondays), the show will mesmerize audiences with performances from the world's best aerialists and stunt performers and climax with the breathtaking Wallenda Family Pyramid finale. The amazing stunt features Nik, his wife Erendira, and other members of the Wallenda family walking untethered, high above the stage.

Wallenda’s involvement won’t stop at the Galaxy Theater. Nik Wallenda Productions, Inc., will be crafting additional entertainment for Darien Lake, including a short film chronicling the history of the Wallendas, an interactive tight-rope training academy with hands-on instruction for park guests, and “pop up” performances throughout the park from the cast and crew.

All performances will be free with park admission and for Darien Lake Vacations guests, with preferred seating and VIP packages sold on a limited basis. 2014 season-pass holders will receive exclusive show offers and event invites throughout the show's run. Discounted early-bird season passes are available at Tops Friendly Markets and online at www.darienlake.com.

“The level of entertainment Nik will bring to our guests this season is unprecedented,” said Vince Nicoletti, director of Marketing at Darien Lake. “This truly will be an incomparable entertainment experience.”

“My family and I are thrilled to be back in the area and spending our summer at Darien Lake,” said Nik Wallenda. “With more than a million people coming to the park every season, it’s the perfect location for our act and we can’t wait to get started.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm

The Bonadio Group in Batavia announces two new hires

post by Billie Owens in business

Press release:

The Bonadio Group is pleased to welcome the following new employees:

Alysse Johnson, MBA, has been hired as an Intern for the tax team. Johnson received dual degrees: a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Canisius College, and a master of Business Administration degree, with a concentration in Accounting from Rochester Institute of Technology.  She resides in Le Roy.

Rachael Klein has been hired as a seasonal tax processor for the Small Business Administration team. Klein received a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the SUNY at Brockport. She resides in Batavia.

About The Bonadio Group

Founded in 1978, The Bonadio Group offers accounting, business advisory, and personal financial services, and is ranked number 54 on the Accounting Today 2013 list of the top 100 CPA firms nationally. With offices in Albany, Batavia, Buffalo, East Aurora, Geneva, New York City, Perry, Rochester, Rutland, Vt., Syracuse, and Utica, Bonadio offers a wide variety of services to meet the needs of commercial, small business, public, tax-exempt, and individual clients. For more information, visit www.bonadio.com.


Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Executive for Muller says yogurt maker on pace for $100 million in sales in U.S.

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, Muller Quaker Dairy

An executive of Batavia-based Muller Quaker Dairy tells an food industry news Web site that the yogurt maker is on pace to reach $100 million in annual sales in the U.S.

"Promotions are playing a role," Barb Yehling, chief marketing officer at Muller Quaker Dairy, told Foodnavigator-USA.com. "However, at the end of the day it’s product quality and taste that matter to consumers. Again, this is where Müller yogurt excels."

Yehling said the company is focused on innovation and meeting unmet needs to bring to the American public a Greek-style yogurt that is fun and flavorful.

Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm

GCEDC announces annual meeting for March 7

post by Howard Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will hold its annual meeting on Friday, March 7, at Genesee Community College to unveil the organization’s 2013 annual report to the community.

The attendees at the annual meeting will include Congressman Chris Collins, Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and Genesee County Legislature Chairman Raymond Cianfrini.  

“Because of the strategic leadership of the public and private sectors in 2013, the economy of Genesee County remains strong and the business climate continues to remain positive,” said Charlie Cook, GCEDC chairman. “We will discuss at this meeting our plans to continue making business attraction and expansion a priority for 2014.”

Among the economic development highlights for the region as outlined in the 2013 annual report include:

** Recognition of Genesee County as one of the to five fastest-growing food processing regions in the country by Business Facilities magazine;

** Recognition of Genesee County by Site Selection magazine as one of the top fastest-growing micropolitans in the United States due to continued growth and business attraction;

** Economic growth as a result of projects like Muller Quaker Dairy LLC, a yogurt manufacturing facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business (GVAB) Park located on Route 5 in Batavia; and

** An unemployment rate of 5.8 percent during the summer of 2013 according to the New York State Department of Labor, one of the lowest unemployment rates of the 62 counties in the state.

In addition to the GCEDC’s annual report highlights, the recipient of this year’s Economic Development Partner of the Year Award will be unveiled.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the annual meeting, please visit www.gcedc.com. Tickets for the event cannot be purchased at the door and seating is limited.

Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Bed, Bath & Beyond will reopen 'as soon as possible'

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business

We received this statement today from Jessica Joyce, a spokeswoman for Bed, Bath & Beyond:

We are working with the landlord and insurance professionals to reopen as soon as possible. Yes, we did offer reassignments to all of our associates.

The store was closed following a fire in the bedding department Jan. 27 and all of the merchandise, shelving and fixtures have been removed from the store.

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