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Firm blasts part of past at N.Y. park

Firm blasts part of past at N.Y. park

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A local firm’s work helping to renovate a Victorian Era structure at Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua is leading to more jobs in the historic renovation arena.

Sandman’s Sandblastings & Coatings in Manchester, Ontario County, reset more than 1,300 pieces of glass that were original windows at the Palm House, a domed conservatory at Sonnenberg, as part of the restoration project.

Sonnenberg is the former summer home and creation of Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson. He was a New York City banker, and she was the daughter of a state governor.

The 50-acre estate is one of two public gardens in the state parks system.

The $350,000 Palm House project is the structure’s first rehab since it was built in 1903. It originally housed the tropical plant collection of Clark Thompson.

Sandman’s donated $100,000 of in-kind labor, and Sonnenberg raised $250,000 through grants and from foundations, organizations, and other donors for the project, the organization’s leaders said.

Richard Deys, Sandman’s president, said the work that began this past summer is different from the firm’s other jobs.

For example, no two pieces of glass were alike. The business also worked to restore as much of the original building as possible. It was overseen by his son, Jacob Deys.

The work Sandman’s completed also included painting and metal and wood restoration.

“With historic preservation, the key is to preserve as much of the original (structure) as possible,” Richard Deys said

Sandman’s, through intricate workmanship, was able to restore pieces to their original condition, he added.

David Hutchings, Sonnenberg’s executive director, said the project gives people something additional to enjoy when they visit the site. The Palm House will be ready when Sonnenberg opens in the spring, he added.

“It’s now ready for another generation,” Hutchings said.

In addition to the structure, Sonnenberg will restore Clark Thompson’s tropical garden that was housed in the Palm House, he said.

The job at Sonnenberg has led to interest from other firms and organizations that have historic restoration projects, Deys said.

An upcoming job for Sandman’s is restoring five locomotives—each roughly 100 feet long and weighing up to 500,000 pounds—at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Lancaster County. Other interest has come from organizations looking for restoration work in Steuben County and elsewhere in Upstate New York, he said.

Sandman’s specializes in blastings, spray coatings and fabrication. Blasting is a general term used to describe the act of propelling very fine bits of material at a high velocity to clean or etch a surface.

Sandman’s has worked on locomotives, planes, trains and automobiles for customers from North Dakota to Nova Scotia.

Its projects range from maintaining highway trucks across the state to restoring a military cargo plane to its original condition.

The business also operates Gas Man and Supply Co. Ltd. onsite. Gas Man sells items ranging from welding supplies to propane tanks.

The company recently completed a project that involved full exterior reconditioning of a C-5 Galaxy aircraft from the late 1960s that was built by the Lockheed Aircraft Manufacturing Co. and now is on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del. The C-5 is one of the largest military aircraft in the world and was designed to transport heavy cargo on intercontinental runs.

Sandman’s also has completed restoration work on Lockheed’s C-130 models, which are four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft.

Deys said the 20-person firm regularly experiences year-over-year sales growth of 15 to 20 percent.

The firm’s experience and willingness to take on jobs other firms may find too challenging has helped drive its growth, he said.

“The harder the job, the more I want it,” Deys said. “I like the challenge.”

12/23/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected].