UFPI Expanding Truss Operations in Massachusetts

Industry News,

Originally Published by: MassLive — February 12, 2023
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The City Council gave a Western Massachusetts truss builder a final go-ahead to expand by opening a second shop in a vacant building in one of the industrial parks.

UFI Industries is now hoping to move into an about 152,000 square-foot building on 31 Griffith Road in May. The building has been vacant since Leoni Wire, a German-owned company that made high-performance conductors for the aerospace, defense and oil and gas production industries, closed in December 2021.

“This will bring jobs to Chicopee and it is an investment in our city,” City Councilor Joel McAuliffe said. “Our reputation with the business community has not been in such a great place lately so we are missing out on opportunities. I think this will go a long way in restoring that trust.”

Over the past two years, residents have loudly and repeatedly protested proposals from businesses interested in building in the Chicopee Businesses Park, on Burnett Road and at other spots.

While the property on Griffith Road is properly zoned for industry, the owners needed a special permit to store trusses outside between the time they are completed and when they can be picked up and delivered to job sites. Regulations only allow for 2% of the property to be used for outside storage and owners wanted to increase it to 7,531 square feet or 5% of the building footprint, City Councilor George Balakier said.

The actual manufacturing work will be done inside the building, he said.

The City Council voted 11-0 last week to grant a waiver and special permit to allow the change.

City Councilor Mary-Elizabeth Pniak-Costello said she initially abstained from voting when the issue was in subcommittee because she wanted to ensure the outside storage would not create a quality-of-life problem for neighbors. After doing some research, she said she would support the business.

She said she visited UFI in Belchertown, which is in a residential neighborhood, and heard no complaints about the company. She also talked to several people in Chicopee who are close to the Griffith Road Property.

“What they did like about this was it was going to occupy an empty building and it was going to create a tax base and it was going to create jobs,” she said.

Under the special permit regulations, the City Council also can require the company to make changes if residents do find there is excessive noise or other quality of life issues, Balakier said.

“I’m just glad someone decided to choose us to … expand their business that they have been doing for so long,” Councilor William Courchesne said. “There is no reason we shouldn’t do this.”

Councilor Gary Labrie agreed, saying the company has operated for decades in Belchertown and is a good neighbor.

The company, which is expected to create at least 100 new jobs with the expansion, has long outgrown its about 30,000-square-foot building on Bay Road in Belchertown and has been looking for a spot where it can expand for four to five years, said Sean Simmer, vice president of operations for the Belchertown firm.