Swanson Fabrication plans to expand its operation to the Werzalit property on Holley Avenue.
The announcement was made during a Bradford City Council meeting Tuesday, when council authorized an agreement with KT East LLC — an entity related to Swanson Fabrication — to take on certain obligations of Werzalit of America Inc. The obligations are the repayment of loans Werzalit received from Bradford City and the McKean County Industrial Development Inc.
Werzalit recently closed its doors due to financial issues.
When Werzalit ceased operations, it ceased making payments on the loans and indicated it would be abandoning the property as of this coming Friday, according to the resolution passed by city council.
Swanson Fabrication works and installs structural and architectural projects that include structural steel and aluminum rails, Tor Swanson, one of the owners of Swanson Fabrication, explained to The Era after the meeting.
During the meeting, Swanson told council he’s pleased with doing business in Bradford, which is within hours of several larger cities. Also, businesses in the Bradford area are valuable resources to his company.
He said there are now 15 employees at Swanson Fabrication and he hopes to add more in the future with the expansion.
“Bradford is underutilized for industry,” said Swanson. “There’s a lot around here that people take for granted.”
Sara Andrews, executive director of the local Office of Economic and Community Development, said that Werzalit told her in mid-August the company was closing. She noted she was “very disappointed” with the news and added the city has been working with Werzalit for at least 40 years.
“They’ve basically relied on the city for financing a lot of equipment,” she said, explaining that, as a German company, Werzalit found it difficult to secure bank financing for equipment.
The loans were always repaid, Andrews noted.
Andrews said Werzalit was sold to an American company last year, and, after losing two major accounts in the last six months or so, made the decision to close.
An added benefit of KT East taking over the property is that the city won’t have to figure out what to do with outdated equipment in the building, which would have been expensive to remove, she said.
She noted they are assuming Werzalit’s debt for the building and equipment.
Swanson said his company will be able to use some of the equipment from Werzalit but not all of it.
He is not sure at this time whether or not the company will continue using its current location on East Washington Street in addition to Holley Avenue.
In other news, council appointed Karen Costello-Pecht to the Historic Architectural Review Board. She will fill Sam Sylvester’s unexpired five-year term, which ends in January 2022.
Council also accepted a quote of $3,477.25 from L-Tron Corp. for police equipment.
Mayor Tom Riel noted the equipment is being paid for by donations from three private benefactors.
A quote was also accepted for $3,720 from Hoffman Landscape & Fence to purchase and install fencing at Callahan Park.
Councilman Brad Mangel noted the new fencing is being installed after two boys got their legs stuck in a grate at the park earlier this month.
At a pension board meeting held prior to the regular council meeting, the pension board approved a motion to ask for a report on a request from William Hanley Lodge #67 FOP — the police department’s union. The FOP requested that a cost study be done.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 12.