BIG FLATS | A local company that started 20 years ago with just three employees opened a new headquarters and expanded production facility this week that will allow it to double its capacity, according to the company’s president.

The 15,000-square foot expansion at the IST corporate park complex has been operational since Jan. 4. A ribbon-cutting event was held Wednesday.

Cemecon Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Germany-based Cemecon AG, coats industrial cutting tools for other companies using high-tech processes that increase the life and in some cases the effectiveness of the tools.

With two facilities in Big Flats, the company now employs 50 workers.

“We started at 221 N. Main (St.) in Horseheads just about 20 years ago,” said Cemecon Inc. President Gary Lake.

He said the company’s expansion has been the result of a group effort.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the county government, we’ve had a lot of support from the community,” Lake said.

Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli said this kind of facility is just what was planned when the IST center on Daniel Zenker Drive was first created.

“You know when you’ve been around too long, because I remember when this place was nothing but offices, way back when, when we first opened the corporate park,” Santulli said. “This has worked out perfectly. We have several businesses that make up this complex and they’re all solid businesses, and it’s almost entirely manufacturing.”

“It’s such an impressive addition to our community,” added Mike Krusen, deputy county executive and Southern Tier Economic Growth president.

Also present for the ribbon-cutting was Dr. Toni Leyendecker, founder of Cemecon AG and inventor of the key coating process that has led to the company’s success.

“I’m very proud of the staff here,” he said of the U.S. facility. “Production is very difficult, very complicated. We need good, reliable people and that’s what we found here.”

Lake, for his part, praised Leyendecker, and noted that the German parent company serves as their “mentors.”

“We would not be here if not for his inventiveness, his ingenuity,” Lake said.

The company offers a wide range of tool-coating processes and materials ranging from high-end CVD diamond coatings to less exotic materials for less demanding processes.

Company officials said the coating depends on the customer's needs.

The diamond coating process is perfect, and in high demand, for work in fields such as aviation and others where manufacturers are cutting composite materials, carbon fiber or graphites.

But that coating might be overkill for cutting softer materials in other manufacturing settings, officials said.

For large-scale manufacturers, the company also sells its coating equipment so it can be used in-house.

Santulli said Wednesday Cemecon is a good example of Chemung County’s manufacturing base and of a story about manufacturing that isn’t often told.

“People think that manufacturing is simple, that it’s some mundane job,” he said. “(But) there have to be those people who have the skills to make something and make it work.”

Krusen noted that the I-86 Corridor from Elmira to Hornell is actually one of the state’s strongest manufacturing regions, thanks to employers such as Cemecon.

“It’s the largest percentage of manufacturing jobs on a per-capita basis in New York state,” Krusen said.

“This community still has a great manufacturing base,” Santulli added.