North Country Chamber of Commerce president Garry Douglas is fond of saying, “Where things move is where prosperity occurs.” This Chamber mantra has proven to be true as the number of transportation affiliated companies in the area has seen amazing growth in the past 20 years. From a start with just two companies—Vapor Stone Rail Systems and Bombardier—the area now hosts a 52-company cluster of transportation equipment and aerospace manufacturers, many in growth mode and with new ones in the pipeline according to Douglas.
In this issue of Strictly Business we look at four companies that are part of that cluster. We begin with B3CG, a supplier of cables and harnesses, electrical and electromechanical connector assemblies. The company works with clients in public ground transportation, the medical equipment field, telecommunications, and a variety of other specialized functions. In business in Plattsburgh for nearly a decade, B3CG recently moved from the Military Turnpike to the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, adding space and employees.
One of the newest members of the area’s transportation cluster is Plastitel, a company with Canadian roots which came to the U.S. four years ago to provide parts for Nova Bus and Prevost. In addition to making mass-transportation equipment components, Plastitel manufactures products that are used to make medical equipment, as well as industrial and recreational products. Its large clients include the Stryker Corporation, a medical technology firm and Johnson & Johnson.
Located just outside the downtown area in Plattsburgh is DOORspec which specializes in design, manufacture and development of door systems for use in trains, metros and light rail. Although the company’s operation in the area is still growing, it has attracted some A-list clients including the Thailand East Orient Express, the metros in Montreal, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Vancouver; the light rail systems in Las Vegas, Dubai and Jacksonville, and airport shuttles at JFK and in Hong Kong.
Vapor Stone Rail Systems, also located on the former PAFB designs, models, manufactures, and distributes metro door systems. In addition, the company manufactures HVAC accessories for both commuter and passenger trains. Its recent growth has resulted in an agreement with The Development Corp to take over 60,000 feet of a building the economic development agency has under construction across Arizona Avenue from its current location. With the expansion it expects to add more than 50 new jobs.
To add diversity to this transportation issue of SB we have also included two automobile dealers—one dynasty group and one small, specialty shop.
The DELLA Auto Group, with dealerships from Glens Falls to Plattsburgh, has a dozen locations and represents most car manufacturers. Now in its second generation of management, the business has become a dominant player along the Northway with its aggressive acquisition business model. Last year’s purchase of the Plattsburgh Kia dealership and the recent purchase of McBride Chevrolet and Subaru have put the DELLA Group physically in the center of Plattsburgh, along with the company’s several locations on Route 3 west of the city.
If you are not a foreign car aficionado you may not have heard about the European Autohaus but if you are, you’ve certainly heard car buffs sing the company’s praises. Starting small, staying small and focusing on quality work has earned owner Tom Vagi a loyal following.
And then we bring you this month’s Insight feature, Janet Duprey. After decades of public service Duprey is a North Country legend. Her willingness to serve the best interests of her constituents, regardless of party affiliation, has endeared her to voters. Make sure to read the story of her start in politics and what she learned as she continued to serve.
While the big guys—Nova Bus, Bombardier and the newest addition, Norsk Titanium—get most of the attention when the conversation turns to talk of our transportation cluster, make no mistake, it is the work of the dozens of small transportation manufacturers in the area that keep work on the buses and train cars moving along and that’s good for business.
Also good for business are our auto dealers and the technicians who provide the service—two sides of a critically important industry in the North County.