Nufern expansion an investment in East Granby


Special to the Granby News

Photo by Gregory Scibelli. Martin Seifert, president of Nufern Inc., in East Granby, in the nearly-completed 30,000-square-foot expansion to the company's Airport Road facility.

EAST GRANBY — Almost 10 years ago, East Granby-based Nufern Inc. appeared to be another company that was heading out of business. But after having adapted successfully to changing times, company president Martin Seifert is expanding his workforce and his Airport Road building.

Nufern is nearing the completion of a $12 million, 30,000 square-foot addition to its operations, with a goal of becoming one of the largest and most reliable fiber-optic application resources in the area.

Seifert said he is pleased to see the business growing through the difficult economy, and is glad to be basing his operation in the small town of East Granby.

“Right now, we are a $28 million operation with the equipment we have purchased and the addition we are putting on our current building,” said Seifert. “Since we went from optical fibers for communication to using fibers for gyroscopes and lasers, our business has steadily grown.”

At one point, the business was struggling, and Seifert’s 80-person workforce had shrunk to about 30 people.

“We got to a point where we had to re-assess our business,” said Seifert.

Before the expansion of the building started, the number of employees grew from 30 to about 125. When the addition is completed in June, Seifert said he expects to add about 40 more people to the business.

Jobs for Nufern range from engineers to quality control to computer programming. The company develops optical fibers to build lasers, fiber lasers, fiber amplifiers, gyroscope coils, sensors and other subassemblies that help its customers compete in fiber-enabled markets.

In its East Granby facility, Nufern’s functions include the development of fibers and the processing and manufacturing of laser systems.

The addition will allow Seifert to expand the current functions of the manufacturing plant.

“We have grown our business to a point where we have simply outgrown our building,” said Seifert, who showed a number of rooms where workers are in close quarters. “We need to give our people more room to be able to work.”

Seifert said Nufern purchased a company in Maryland and brought the business to Connecticut despite several offers and tax incentives to continue operating the company in Maryland and Virginia. A province in Canada also made an offer to Nufern.

“We wanted to keep operating our business right here,” said Seifert, who hopes to secure incentives from the State of Connecticut.

Until an agreement is reached, the company is footing the bill for the expansion.

“We have no option but to do this ourselves,” said Seifert. “We need to do this for our business to continue growing and meet the demands of our customers.”

Customers for Nufern include many large industries and the federal government. Nufern produces laser equipment for the Trident Missile Program.

Equipment purchased by the company includes laser manufacturing equipment, and air quality0control equipment. The facility produces its own heat and air conditioning. Due to the sensitivity of fiber optics, rooms in the facility must be temperature controlled.

Thanks to the expansion of Nufern, East Granby is reporting growth in their overall property values, which is adding money to the tax base for the town. East Granby First Selectman Jim Hayden said he is pleased to see the business expanding, with many benefits to the town.

“It’s not just money that is being added to the tax base,” said Hayden. “We are talking about an investment in the town, and adding jobs and capital.”

Hayden said the grand list increased 2.1 percent this year, where other towns are seeing declines in their overall property values, a factor that helps determine the tax rate.

The expansion on the building began late last year and is expected to be finished by the end of June. The expansion will more than double the size of the building.

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