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Buffalo News: Illinois firm plans to buy Curtis Screw

Thu, Oct 9th 2014 02:00 pm

 Illinois firm plans to buy Curtis Screw, keep local workforce intact

BY: Matt Glynn   Published: October 9, 2014, 06:04 PMUpdated: October 9, 2014, 06:04 PM


A company based in the Chicago area plans to buy components manufacturer Curtis Screw Co. of Buffalo and keep the local workforce intact, according to documents filed with the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

MacLean-Fogg Component Solutions is a subsidiary of Mac- Lean-Fogg Co., which was founded in 1925 and is owned by the MacLean family. The company has 32 manufacturing facilities worldwide, with annual sales of more than $900 million and about 3,000 employees. 

Curtis, which supplies the automotive industry, has annual sales of $65 million and employs 165 people at its Thielman Drive plant. It has two other plants, in Connecticut and North Carolina; the three sites employ about 350 people altogether.

Representatives of MacLean-Fogg and Curtis did not return calls seeking comment on the proposed acquisition. MacLean-Fogg explained its plans in documents filed with the ECIDA, though it did not disclose a potential purchase price for Curtis.

MacLean-Fogg asked the agency to allow a proposed merged company - to be called MacLean Curtis - to maintain the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, or PILOT, that Curtis has with the agency for its Thielman Drive plant. Maintaining the agreement "will help MacLean Curtis to retain current Curtis Screw operations in Buffalo," the company said in its application.

The PILOT has about six years left, running until 2020. The payments are at the 50 percent level, with the county receiving $9,600 per year and the city receiving $48,200 per year. Full taxes on the property without the PILOT would be $115,600.

Curtis Screw is a mainstay of local manufacturing. Frank O. Curtis founded the company in Buffalo in 1905. In 2005, as the company celebrated its 100th anniversary, it moved to Thielman Drive. The MacLean family owns manufacturing operations throughout the United States, including in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan and Arkansas. Curtis' proposed new parent company told the ECIDA that it "will be evaluating operations throughout the United States in order to determine where to strategically deploy assets."

MacLean-Fogg said Curtis' North Carolina facility "operates comparatively more profitably than the Buffalo location." That advantage represents 7 percent of sales, or a gain of $70,000 in earnings per $1 million of top-line sales compared with the Buffalo operation, MacLean-Fogg said.

"This relationship also holds true when the Buffalo operation is compared with other existing MacLean family operations," the company said in its application. The family said its intention is to "identify and implement ways to improve the Buffalo margins."

While the PILOT would not make up the "total difference," MacLean-Fogg said, losing the agreement "would result (in) an even wider margin to bridge." The company also says the Buffalo operation has the "physical capacity to grow by 30 percent."

"An approval of the extension of the current PILOT is a positive vote and a meaningful gesture at the beginning of what is hopefully a long and successful relationship," the company said.

In its application, MacLean-Fogg indicates Oct. 31 as the date by which it plans to acquire Curtis Screw. The ECIDA is scheduled to vote on the PILOT request at its Oct. 22 meeting.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com

Matt Glynn

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