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Manufacturing is Diverse in The Tonawandas, NY

By John McBryde on February 6, 2014

The roots of manufacturing in the Tonawandas stretch back nearly 200 years, to when a major water route was being developed.

“North Tonawanda is an ancient industrial area that dates back to when the Erie Canal opened in 1825 and ended in North Tonawanda,” says Doug Taylor, president of Taylor Devices. “That made us a real center for commerce.”

It’s been a thriving center ever since. Even though the bustle of manufacturing has dwindled like the rest of the country in recent years, the Tonawandas are still producing a variety of goods used all over the world.

“We’ve kind of resurrected ourselves into light manufacturing, high-tech manufacturing and service industries,” says Taylor, a lifelong resident of North Tonawanda and a board member on the Lumber City Development Corporation.

Intelligent Workforce

With 110 employees and 100,000 square feet of space – including a $3 million expansion completed in September 2013 – Taylor Devices is one of the region’s leading manufacturers. It was founded in 1955 by Taylor’s father, Paul Taylor, and today makes products that are used to help buildings or bridges withstand earthquakes or vibrations from a power plant, as well as other similar uses. Customers include those in industrial, aerospace and automotive throughout the world.

Its history in the Tonawandas notwithstanding, Taylor Devices benefits from other factors here as well.

“The workforce is an intelligent blue-collar workforce that’s readily available,” Taylor says. “The proximity of North Tonawanda to the Amherst campus of the University of Buffalo gives us access to graduates in engineering, business and scientists that are top level.”

John Siegel, president of SR Instruments, would concur that the region’s access to hard workers is certainly a plus for manufacturing.

“I think the big thing is the workforce here has been really talented,” says Siegel, whose father started the company in the early 1970s. “Training and education have been fairly good, and there’s abundant water and power.”

SR Instruments, which has 50 employees, designs, produces and sells custom instruments such as scales for the medical and veterinary industries throughout the world.  It has also created the VioLab PitchMan, an electronic tuner to serve the special needs of professional and amateur early music instrumentalists, ensemble leaders and organ tuners.

“We’re one of the few companies that still actually designs load cells,” Siegel says of the design used in its weighing systems. “We can actually design the load cell to fit the conditions and what kind of data you want to collect.”

Other Industries

The diversity of industry in the Tonawandas can also be seen in other manufacturers.

Oxygen Generating Systems Intl., for instance, makes and sells on-site oxygen generators for a variety of uses. Founded in 1995, it now has oxygen plants in more than 70 countries and serves markets such as hospitals, fish farms, mining, ozone water treatment, waste treatment and metal cutting.

Bender’s Technical Detailing, which does structural steel detailing for industrial and commercial industries, prides itself on having a staff of highly experienced detailers and checkers that began their steel experience in a fabrication shop or as steel draftsmen.

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