With just a couple of years of entrepreneurial experience under their belts, the three owners of Genesee County’s L&M Specialty Fabrication already have grown their business to the point that new space was a necessity. Thirty acres of new space.
The small firm does custom fabrication, design, manufacturing and repairs to agricultural specialty equipment such as packer rolls, mitering band saws, plate rolls, lathes and more. It is work and equipment that Lee Shuknecht, his sister, Sarah Geissler and her husband, Matt Geissler spent most of their lives around, Shuknecht said.
“We’ve kind of done this before,” 27-year-old Shuknecht said. “I kind of grew up with farm (work) in my family. And Matt worked on a farm.” Shuknecht’s father, Dale, and mother, Robin, also have backgrounds in the agricultural field.
Operating from a rented facility in Albion, Orleans County, L&M chose to focus the business on a customer-first philosophy, seeking loyalty and trust from its clients from the start. The personal approach worked, and the company soon outgrew its property.
The three owners, all under the age of 30, approached Genesee County Economic Development Center with a plan to accommodate its growth through the purchase of acreage on Saile Drive near Bank Street Road in Batavia. L&M was awarded a sales tax exemption of $84,000 and a property tax abatement of $158,656. The total project
cost is $2.2 million, and GCEDC anticipates that for every $1 of public support, there will be a return of $35 to the local economy.
At a groundbreaking this week, Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, R-Batavia, said the three owners have forged a blueprint of the American Dream.
“The group has found a specialty niche in the agricultural market,” Hawley said. “What’s even more impressive, besides their rapid growth and innovative products, is the personal relationship that they have with their customers.”
Although the company primarily repairs farm and construction equipment, as well as does custom manufacturing of tools and equipment, Shuknecht said L&M plans to begin producing its own self-propelled onion harvesting machines. Growing up in the Genesee County town of Elba, where the smell of onions is common all summer long, Shuknecht said the company has a ready-made local market for the equipment.
“So there’s some market here, but there’s a lot out west in Washington and Oregon,” Shuknecht said. “And then as well as some interest in New Zealand and Australia.”
With the opening of the 23,000-square-foot facility on Saile Drive, L&M is hoping to expand its custom manufacturing business and perhaps delve into other areas of manufacturing.
“We hope to get into our new building and expand the repair end, and hopefully with the onion harvesters we can expand that around the world,” Shuknecht said. “And then hopefully we can expand into some manufacturing, some different customer things, or maybe a whole different line of something once we get this going.”
The larger facility is expected to retain seven jobs and create two new jobs when it opens later this year or early 2019.
“We are very excited to welcome these young entrepreneurs who have chosen Batavia to grow and expand their business while fulfilling an important need for the agricultural sector in Genesee County and the surrounding region,” GCEDC chairman Paul Battaglia said.
Added Hawley: “The road to success, especially in New York, is not easy. But L&M seems to have cracked the code for growth and for success.”
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