Less than one year after flames decimated the headquarters of Cazenovia Equipment Co. on U.S. Route 20 in Nelson, the family-owned business has rebounded with the construction of a new $3 million facility nearby that officials say will create at least 15 new jobs over the next five years.
Company officials had commemorated the company's 50th anniversary with a cake-cutting at the Chenango County Fair just hours before flames broke out in the farm equipment dealership's main showroom August 12, 2011.
The fast-moving fire leveled the showroom, warehouse and service areas causing so much damage investigators were unable to determine the cause of the blaze.
In the days after the fire, employees were dispatched to dealerships in LaFayette and Clinton, which served as hubs for service and other calls during the company's busy fall harvest season.
But company officials were adamant that they would rebuild the company’s main headquarters in Madison County, breaking ground on the project less than three months after the fire and completing construction in eight months.
The business was founded in 1961 by Larry Love to serve the farm community in Cazenovia.
The company is now run by Love’s grandsons, Mike and Jim Frazee. Now in its third generation, Cazenovia Equipment boasts nine other locations across Central and Northern New York. The stores sell farm tractors and implements and lawn-and-garden gear, representing John Deere and a variety of other manufacturers.
Although company officials had been investigating expansion since 2009, the project wasn't expected until at least 2014, the Frazee brothers said Wednesday.
“We had outgrown the facility,” said Mike Frazee of the original headquarters, which was landlocked by businesses and other wetlands.
Located just 1.8 miles east on Route 20, the new 25,000 square-foot facility is nearly twice the size of the original showroom in Nelson.
Although the new store has been open for business since April, company officials are hosting a community celebration this weekend, with live entertainment and a farmers market.
The event was organized to thank customers, as well as town officials, fire fighters and other community members.
“It was really endearing to know the depth of relationships that we have,” said Jim Frazee. The brothers said the new facility would have made their grandfather proud.
“It just really hit me how much better off we are today,” said Jim Frazee. “There was a lot of pain, but we are so much better and stronger for everything that is coming in the future.”