Three years ago, Niagara Lubricant’s former location burned in a devastating fire in July of 2011. In an effort to keep the business afloat, Chairman of Niagara Lubricant, Leon Smith III, moved the third generation family-owned business into a competitor’s space but found the location was inadequate.
“The space was not safe for my employees to work in, and not large enough for us to meet the demand of our customers.” Said Leon Smith III, “We had insufficient space to store inventory and to take advantage of supplier discounts, this also drove up shipping costs. We spent too much time moving inventory around the facility rather than manufacturing, packaging and shipping products. I needed a new facility to overcome these challenges and grow the business. I reached out to a local SBA 504 lender and they turned us down. No one would give us a loan! Until the Eerie County IDA connected us to NDC Grow America Fund.”
Niagara Lubricant is the first business in Buffalo to benefit from JP Morgan Chase Foundation’s SME Collaboration Grant. The grant adds capital to an existing loan fund that is administered by the National Development Council, through its Grow America Fund, in partnership with Erie County Industrial Development Agency, the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency and the City of Niagara Falls.
“Without Grow America Fund, the Chase SME Grant, and Eerie County IDA, I wouldn’t have been able get into the new facility.” Said Leon Smith III, “This loan was amazing. Let’s face it, it got me into a building I couldn’t have otherwise afforded. A building that is safer for my staff and allows my family business to be even more productive than it was before the fire.”
Speakers at the event included Leon Smith III, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Leon Smith III, and GAF Loan Officer Sheldon Bartell.