DRYDEN, N.Y. –– The hustle and bustle of business is about to get a little louder in the town of Dryden, a local sheet metal product manufacturer and a regional roofing and siding firm plan moves into the community, with jobs in tow.

The first is Incodema, a local industrial firm that is currently housed in a manufacturing facility in the West Hill neighborhood of Ithaca at 407 Cliff Street. The company specializes in making custom sheet-metal prototypes and small-batch, specialized miniature components for industrial machines and other heavy-duty or research applications, through the use of powerful laser beams and high-pressure water jets.

Business has been good. So good, that they’re running out of room. Luckily for them, there’s a suitable space in the town of Dryden for an expansive new facility at 1920 Slaterville Road, formerly a machine shop and automotive repair facility. The plan is to renovate the 24,450 square-foot building, which has been vacant for several years, into Incodema’s new manufacturing facility. The $800,000 project would include a major interior renovations for the metalwork and design spaces, new doors and windows on the outside, and the usual complement of new lighting, stormwater facilities, landscaping and paving.

In an effort to be a good neighbor, Incodema will use “silencers” to minimize the noise from machine operations. Cutting fluids used in the course of work will be stored in barrels on-site and transported away by truck.

Incodema would employ about 50 people at their new Dryden facility, and has already been thinking of potential expansions for the buildings as they continue to grow, with concept plans for another 4,800 square-feet of manufacturing space in the future phases of development. Marathon Engineering is handling the project’s review with the town of Dryden, with STREAM Collaborative providing architectural services, Taitem Engineering for structural engineering work, and Strategic Elements Real Estate Development (local developer Lincoln Morse) assisting in the planning.

Now, if you’re reading this from the city of Ithaca’s Planning Department, this might conjure up some unpleasant flashbacks. Emmy’s Organics had to move their cookie manufacturing facility from the city to a larger facility in the town of Dryden after plans for a new warehouse in the city fell through due to poor soils and a lack of other suitable sites. Weitsman Scrap Metal also decided to move out of the city given the increasing mixed-use nature of Ithaca’s West End and potential long-term issues.

In a phone call, Incodema CEO Illa Burbank sought to dispel any notions that the move had anything to do with issues with the city of Ithaca. It was an issue with simply being too big for their current space, and there aren’t many other options on the Ithaca market if an industrial firm wants to stay local.

“Incodema is experiencing continued growth in its operations, and is limited by its current location. This will position Incodema for future growth and serve to build its job-building potential,” said Burbank.

“We are in growth mode and cramped to the gills at our current facility. There’s no space with a road on one side and a cliff on the other, there’s no room to expand physically. Moving over to the Slaterville Road facility gives us more breathing room, and if we need to, add on physical space. We wanted to stay local here and we wanted to stay in Tompkins County, it’s very important to have our skilled workforce stay with us.”

If approved by the town, renovations would commence in February 2021, though a time frame for the move itself has not been established by the documents on file. As for the Cliff Street building, Morse is working with STREAM Collaborative in an “adaptive reuse” project for the building, in what they called “a win-win for the town of Dryden and city of Ithaca” in a provided statement. Plans and tenant mix are still being fleshed out for the 20,000 square-foot building.

Next up in this article is 97 Southworth Road, about a mile southeast of Dryden village. In this case, it’s not a local business moving, but a regional business opening a new branch facility. Alpine Metal Roofing, headquartered in the Delaware County village of Sidney, intends to reuse the existing 12,000 square-foot industrial building on site for roof fabrication and sales.

“Let me tell you a little about myself and my company. I started Alpine Roofing Inc. in 2010 as a roofing installation company with one rusty van, two employees and little money. Since then, it has become a business with 30 employees doing $5.5 million in yearly revenue…(w)e purchase large (10000 lb.) coils of pre-painted steel and “rollform” and cut to length the panels used for roofing and siding. We also slit and fold all the necessary trim pieces and flashing. Our main business is selling pole barn packages to dairy farm and contractors building agricultural post-frame buildings,” wrote company owner Hans Hass.

The plans call for modest site plan updates, the most notable being a 4,800 square-foot pole barn to store steel coils, and revisions to the gravel parking area to allow for truck turnarounds. An existing single-family home on the property would be reused as office space. A driveway is shared with the adjacent property, and the owners of that parcel have sent a letter to the town supporting Hass’s plans, and he will be paving both the shared portion and their portion of the driveway at his expense. Operations at the site will start with six production and sales staff starting at $16/hour.

It’s not often one sees a letter of endorsement from the mayor of the town where a business is expanding from, but Sidney mayor Andrew Matviak sent the town of Dryden a letter calling Hass “an outstanding citizen” and that “Hans and his company would be an asset wherever they locate.”

A date for the arrival of Alpine Metal Roofing was not given in the filing, though Hass noted he already has the property under contract, with the sale contingent on the town’s approval of his business expansion.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.