How Canisius College women's soccer helped bring tech jobs to Buffalo

By James Fink
Buffalo Business First

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Retech CEO Earl Good. (IMAGE: Buffalo Business First)
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Retech CEO Earl Good. (IMAGE: Buffalo Business First)

The sport of soccer helped Buffalo's pitch to entice Retech Systems LLC to relocate its headquarters and much of its U.S. operations from California to Buffalo’s Northland Beltline campus.

Buffalo checked off a lot of boxes as Retech Systems president and managing director Earl Good began his due diligence in searching for an East Coast home for the California-based company.

But, there was one that rarely shows up on any any economic checklist: Good’s own familiarity with the region thanks to his two daughters playing soccer for Canisius College.

That gave Good a close up of Buffalo’s resurgence and its new manufacturing hub.

“I saw all the development taking place in Buffalo and it helped me understand that Buffalo is growing,” Good said. “We found everything we were looking for in this area. It is a good fit for us.”

Retech has a 10-year-lease to occupy nearly 50,000-square-feet at 683 Northland Avenue. That building houses the Northland Workforce Training Center and Buffalo Manufacturing Works, which anchor the sprawling, century-old plant that has been refurbished at a cost of $120 million as part of the Buffalo Billion initiative.

Retech will pay slightly more than $3 million during the course of the initial 10-year lease. The company has two, five-year renewal options for $3.67 million in lease payments during that second 10-year period.

“This is the type of company we were also hoping for at Northland,” said Mayor Byron Brown. “Their decision may encourage other companies to take a harder look at Buffalo.”

Retech, which dates back to 1963 and is headquartered in Ukiah, California, is owned by Polish-backed industrial conglomerate SECO/Warwick Group of Cos. The company specializes in high-tech, titanium-melting furnaces to companies in such industries as aerospace, medical and defense contractors.

Good said with a growing number of East Coast clients, Retech was searching for a new corporate center to include research and development and a manufacturing hub closer to its customers.

“We chose the Northland facility, because of the overall attractiveness of the space,” Good said. “It allows us to bring together the engineering aspect with the manufacturing and R&D work in one location. This will be a great facility for us to host customers, and the size will also allow for future growth.”

Retech will be hiring between 30 and 35 employees initially but Good said that number could more than double to the 75-to-80 range, if the company’s expansion moves forward as projected. Those positions will consist in part of engineers and high-tech specialists.

Good has recently purchased a house in East Amherst.

Buffalo was selected over such other cities as Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Other locations in Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and the south were considered.

“Pittsburgh was definitely in the discussion,” said Ryall Ledyard, a broker with Pyramid Brokerage Co. of Buffalo, who represented Retech.

Canisius women’s soccer aside, such factors as work force and the cost of living were factors along with workforce training programs at Northland.

“We chose the Northland facility, because of the overall attractiveness of the space,” Good said. “It allows us to bring together the engineering aspect with the manufacturing and R&D work in one location. This will be a great facility for us to host customers, and the size will also allow for future growth.”

Buffalo Urban Development Corp. is finishing the build out of the Retech space and the company hopes to begin local operations by late spring or early summer and fully ramped up by late summer, said Peter Cammarata, BUDC president.

This article originally appeared in Buffalo Business First.