Weber-Knapp to Remain Under Local Ownership

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Rhonda Johnson and Wayne Rishell are the new owners of Weber-Knapp in Jamestown, NY, thanks in part to a recently approved loan by the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency’s board of directors during its Sept. 26, 2023 meeting.

CCIDA Approves Loan for Purchase by Local Ownership Group

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County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA)

At its Sept. 26, 2023 meeting, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) Board of Directors approved a $1 million loan to support the purchase of Weber-Knapp Co. Inc. by Rhonda Johnson, President of Weber-Knapp, and Wayne Rishell, CFO of Weber-Knapp. The facilities are located on Chandler St. in Jamestown, NY and Allen St. in Falconer, NY and are comprised of 243,000 square feet of space.

Weber-Knapp has been operating in Jamestown for 114 years, when the company started as a manufacturer of hardware for the furniture industry. Throughout the years the company continuously adapted in response to changing market dynamics and opportunities.

Mark Geise, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development and Chief Executive Officer of the CCIDA, spoke about the agency’s efforts to not only attract new development and jobs to the community and region, but just as importantly, retain current businesses.

“It is essential that the CCIDA supports local manufacturers, such as Weber-Knapp, especially when that assistance results in local ownership,” Geise said. “Rex McCray and Donald Pangborn have been terrific leaders in ensuring Weber-Knapp remains locally-owned and competitive on the global stage, and I have every confidence that Rhonda and Wayne, as well as their tremendous workforce, will do the same. I’m pleased that the CCIDA could support this very worthwhile effort.”

In 2011, the company was acquired locally by the current ownership of Mr. McCray and Mr. Pangborn, who were part of the management team. Prior to this purchase, Weber-Knapp was under foreign ownership and there was significant risk that the company was going to relocate out of Chautauqua County or cease operations. The purchase resulted in Weber-Knapp remaining in Chautauqua County and being locally controlled. Presently, the current owners are ready to sell the company, retire, and continue the local ownership practice through Ms. Johnson and Mr. Rishell.

“The advantage of remaining locally owned is that we will be able to maintain the company’s identity, culture, and presence in the community. As the new owners, we have a combined 65-plus years in manufacturing and management, know the business and the employees, and have a strategy for continued success,” Ms. Johnson said.

Weber-Knapp is the premier designer and manufacturer of motion control and hardware products/accessories for the luxury appliance, outdoor appliance, industrial, medical equipment, and office furniture industries. It provides all the function and capability desired by its customer base at a very high-quality level.

“This is another great outcome for a manufacturing pillar of the community,” said PJ Wendel, Chautauqua County Executive. “Weber-Knapp employs more than 100 people locally, with stable and good paying jobs, and I solute not only Ms. Johnson, Mr. Rishell, and their workforce, but also the CCIDA for assisting them in purchasing this staple of the community and keeping it under local ownership and management.”

The current owners – Mr. McCray and Mr. Pangborn – will finance a portion of the acquisition price. Also assisting with funding to complete the purchase, besides the CCIDA, are Evans Bank and Cattaraugus County Bank. The new owners – Ms. Johnson and Mr. Rishell – will inject personal equity to complete the financing.

The Real Property is located at 441 and 415 Chandler St. and 2019 Allen St. in Jamestown and has 104 full-time employees and 14 temporary employees. EZ Office, Kaohsiung Taiwan, which has 11 employees, is a fully-owned subsidiary of Weber-Knapp Co. Inc.

About CCIDA

The CCIDA is an economic development organization authorized and empowered by the State of New York to make Chautauqua County a better place to work, live, and visit. They facilitate development by attracting new businesses, while promoting the retention and expansion of existing businesses. Assistance in the form of incentives – tax abatements, low interest loans, and bond financing – enhances the opportunities for job creation and retention by our businesses. For more information visit www.ccida.com.