May 13, 2009


Lapeer steel manufacturer given BDC loan

LapeerJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Charles Forkey, left, and Charles Forkey III, right, of Forkey Construction and Fabrication in Lapeer, received a grant to upgrade the electric service to their building. Along with building tool and die machined parts, the company fabricates a protective frame for forklift operators, shown above.

Staff Reporter

A Lapeer steel fabricating company is receiving a $42,291 no-interest loan from the Cortland County Business Development Corp. to upgrade its electric system.
Forkey Construction and Fabrication is expected to pay the loan back to the BDC after it receives a grant from its utility provider in January, said Karen Niday, the BDC’s accountant.
The BDC voted on Monday to provide the loan to the company so it can make investments and create jobs before it receives the grant, Niday said.
Forkey Construction and Fabrication manufactures steel parts that it sells to Toyota Industries Corporation’s Raymond Brand, which manufactures forklifts, said Charles Forkey III, vice president of Forkey Construction. The company also makes steel parts for lawnmowers.
Forkey Construction has single-phase electric power, and it has asked its utility provider, New York State Electric and Gas Corp., to upgrade the facility to three-phase electric power.
This will improve energy efficiency and supply more power into the building so that the company can operate more machinery, Forkey said.
Forkey said he expects NYSEG to begin the project sometime in June, and he expects to begin using the three phase electricity by September.
The cost of the upgrade is $150,000, Niday said. NYSEG is paying for most of this cost, but the customer share of the upgrade is $42,291, she said.
Forkey Construction qualified for NYSEG’s investment and outreach program, through which NYSEG sets aside money to cover the customer share of projects, Niday said. NYSEG is expected to provide the company with a $42,291 grant after Jan. 1, 2010, Niday said. Forkey Construction has agreed to pay back the BDC when it receives the grant from NYSEG, she said.
The BDC chose to provide a loan of this same amount to allow the company to expand, bid on more projects and hire more workers before NYSEG issues the grant, Niday said.
“This frees up their cash to do the part that’s important to us, which is to make the investments and to create the jobs,” Niday said.
The company will create 10 jobs and retain its 30 employees through the project, Forkey said, adding the company plans to create the jobs by December.
Niday said that people in Marathon have lost electricity because of the amount of power Forkey Construction uses.
Forkey said that the company’s phase one electricity is preventing it from expanding its operations and operating more efficiently. The main circuit breaker shuts down almost every day, causing employees to have to restart all of the equipment Forkey said. This causes each worker to lose 30 to 45 minutes each time it happens, Forkey said.
The company has also purchased new machinery that it cannot use without upgrading its electricity type. The machines include a high definition plasma cutter, which will allow the workers to cut steel one inch thick instead of buying it already cut, and a robotic welder, which will allow the company to weld steel more efficiently and reduce overtime.
Niday said Forkey Construction has been one of the county Empire Zone’s success stories because of the jobs it has created. The company was formed in 2001 and entered the Empire Zone program in 2004, when it had five employees, and it now has 30 employees, Niday said.


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