10/20/22 - As seen in The Buffalo News - CleanFiber seeks approval for expansion project in Hamburg

Posted on October 24, 2022

CleanFiber seeks approval for expansion project in Hamburg

Chris Henrich of Woods Oviatt Gilman is lead counsel for CleanFiber

A startup manufacturer and 43North winner that makes fiber-based building insulation from recycled corrugated cardboard – and has raised over $50 million in financing – is proceeding with plans to construct an addition to its Hamburg manufacturing facility to boost production.

CleanFiber Buffalo – which won $500,000 in the state-funded business-plan competition in 2016 as UltraCell – is planning to construct a 5,250-square-foot metal panel addition to its existing 60,000-square-foot masonry-and-panel building at 250 Lake Ave., bringing the total size to 66,000 square feet.

That will give the company more room for material handling, as well as new equipment, as part of what CEO Jonathan Strimling described as a $15 million investment in the facility.

"We're moving more and more product through the facility, and we need more space," Strimling said. "We're making a substantial capital investment in the plant."

Strimling would not disclose revenues, but said the company's sales are up 50% over the previous quarter and 120% over the past six months.

The company sells its insulation through a network of distributors and installers, who have used the product in "thousands and thousands of homes" in the Northeast, MidAtlantic and Midwest.

"We're growing extremely rapidly," he said.

The project will be reviewed at a public hearing Wednesday evening at the Hamburg Planning Board.

Originally founded in Massachusetts, UltraCell moved to Buffalo and changed its name after its 2016 43North win. The company uses recycled cardboard fiber to make high-performance and clean cellulose insulation that it says is more efficient and safer than regular insulation, by using a patented process to infuse fire retardant directly into the fibers. It employs 90 at its facility, located on part of the former Bethlehem Steel plant.

In May, CleanFiber secured $14 million in debt financing from California-based Lapis Advisers to support the expansion of its production plant. It previously landed $37 million in other financing to back its business growth, including $750,000 from the Western New York Impact Investment Fund and Buffalo Angels, as well as other U.S. and Canadian investors.

"We've brought a lot of external capital into the area, as well," Strimling said.

Christian Henrich