New owners bring new life and a new attitude to Batavia factory

BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s promising news for a business that had been on the brink of shutting down: about 100 jobs are coming back to Batavia.

P.W. Minor, the oldest business in Genesee County was on the verge of closing its doors for good, last year. Now the shoemaker has new owners and a new lease on life.

New owners are investing more than $7 million in the plant to modernize equipment and bring back 100 jobs that had been outsourced to China.

The new corporate owner is Batavia Shoes, LLC, which also received more than $2 million in tax and hiring incentives from the state to keep the shoemaker going, to streamline operations, and make their product more cost effective

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul took a guided tour of the plant to see how that state aid is working, “There is a lot of pride. The ‘Made in America” label is going to be on these shoes and nowhere else.”

Pete Zeliff, co-owner of Batavia Shoes said the company is closing its facility in China, and bringing those 100 jobs back home.

“Over the last 20 years to 25 years, everything left the States and went overseas to China and Asia, and now that trend is starting to come back the other way, and we are glad to be part of that.”

Co-owner Andrew Young said the company is buying new equipment to help streamline production, and make the their products more competitive.

“There is a bit of a different process that is being done in China that has been done here. We are going to keep this process,” added Young, “and expand it.”

Hochul emphasized the rebirth of P.W. Minor is a $7 million project, primarily financed by the new owners.

“This is not a giveaway. This is a reinvestment in the people of this community and a business where the jobs will be irreplaceable.”

Hochul said, the loss of Minor would have also had a devastating impact on the entire community.

“The local businesses that benefit when people shop downtown Batavia–the mens store, the toy store, the Coffee Culture, all the places that I have spent so much time: those businesses all benefit and would be harmed, on the other side of the coin, if a place like this closed up shop and went away last summer.”

The new owners are also looking for new markets and new styles for their shoes, but home turf is still a priority. That’s why they have a factory outlet right on the grounds.

Company officials expect their “in-sourcing” to get underway sometime this fall.

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