TONAWANDA, N.Y. - Tonawanda's John W. Danforth Company Inc., a full-service mechanical contractor founded in 1884, has acquired a majority of the assets of Orchard Park-based Niagara Frontier Sheetmetal Inc., a 28-year-old sheet metal fabricator and installer, to create what it calls the "first" single-source mechanical/sheet metal provider in western New York.

According to company representatives, John W. Danforth had sales of $93 million in 2003, while Niagara Frontier Sheetmetal - ranked as one of the 50 fastest growing companies in Western New York - had $8 million in sales last year.

This collaboration creates a provider that offers a full range of piping, air conditioning, filtration, heating, ventilation, and sheet metal services, with a combined unionized workforce of more than 400 plumbers, steamfitters, and sheet metal fabricators and installers.

"While it's happened across the country, this collaboration is the first of its kind here in western New York and it creates a single-source provider that will compete more successfully," said Kevin G. Reilly, CEO and chairman, John W. Danforth Co.

"This will also provide our clients with seamless project support, on-going service, and a tremendous network of talent. It also allows a customer, who in the past would have had to deal with as many as five separate companies, ranging from plumbing to HVAC to sheet metal, to now deal with just one. It's a win-win for everyone involved," Reilly said.

Timothy R. George, president of Niagara Frontier Sheetmetal, said, "To me, it's a great personal match and it's a very good time to do this. With the history and tradition involved with both companies, it made sense to come together to elevate the level of our quality products, so in the end our customers will benefit from what we've both offered individually over the years."

Casual discussions between Danforth and Niagara Frontier had occurred over the past couple of years, Reilly said. "We talked, but it was always half-kidding until recently when it heated up. We've been working together for more than 20 years and this was a vision for the future. It makes us more marketable, which in the end means more business," he said.

George, who described Danforth as Niagara Frontier's "largest customer," said, "We've become good friends over the years and this seemed like a natural progression of our relationship. For me it's a great match, both professionally and personally, and it secures not only our future, but the future of both our workforces."

Both Danforth and Niagara Frontier are unionized shops, and company representatives sat down with officials of U.A. Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 22, Western New York, and with Sheet Metal Workers Local #71 to talk before the acquisition happened.

"This is a first in our local industry and I think it's going to be great for several reasons, including the fact we're all working together to become extremely competitive. We're looking to work together with both companies and anticipate good things in the future," said Local No. 22 Business Manager Michael McNally.

Local #71 Business Manager John Helak, added, "While this is occurring in other parts of the country, this is extremely unique here in the Buffalo area. I think this is going to be good for the local industry just by the virtue that Danforth and Niagara Frontier are successful contractors that have now created greater potential for success. They're a good match when it comes to partners working in the local industry."

Publication date: 07/26/2004