These Big Buffalo are made of aluminum and stainless steel, not hoof and hair, and the closest animal connection they have is their use in zoos to condition the air the zoo residents breathe. Buffalo Air Handling manufactures and markets custom and standard air-handling apparatus. In addition to the Big Buffalo lines, the company offers brands such as Aerofil, Fin-fil, Model K and BA2000.
The equipment is used to condition air — to filter it, to humidify it, to dehumidify it, to heat it, to cool it — and to ensure that the correct volume of air reaches the service area. In addition to zoos and other animal facilities, the units are used in other air-critical applications such as laboratories, pharmaceutical-manufacturing plants and operating rooms. The aerospace, telecommunications and automotive industries benefit from Buffalo Air Handling products as well. Simple comfort conditioning in the workplace helps to keep employees from getting too hot or too cold — and chances are that Buffalo Air Handling products are doing the job.
Some of the products are as big as buffalo, maybe bigger. The company’s air-handling products feature thick outer and inner panels, fiberglass insulation, house fans, coils, filters, dampers, louvers, blenders and a host of electric controls and components. They deliver airflow from 500 to 200,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM), and are capable of conditioning air in major commercial facilities. Buffalo Air Handling also customizes its products to fit a customer’s available space and access, whether it is a new or retrofit project.
The company’s recent projects include units installed at Bayer Corporation, at New York’s Grand Central Station and at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. At Bayer, five air-handling units were installed, totaling 200,000 CFM capacities. At Grand Central station, three Buffalo units in operation since 1918 were replaced and an additional 18 units were installed. Big Buffalo and Model K units maintain optimum comfort at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, a 250,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Newark.
The company was formed in 1878 under the name Buffalo Forge Company. By the turn of the century, the influence of one of its chief engineers, Willis Carrier, the father of air conditioning, began to move the company toward the production of air-handling equipment. The direction of Buffalo Forge changed from the manufacture of blacksmith forges and hand and electric bellows to the products that the company is known for today.
The Amherst headquarters was built in 1977 as a response to a substantial increase in demand for large-volume air-conditioning equipment. A second facility was opened in 2000 to increase manufacturing capability. Today, Buffalo Air Handling can boast of a client base in excess of 500, virtually all in North America, although recently the company has supplied equipment to China, Taiwan and Pakistan through U.S.-based firms.
Buffalo Air Handling targets its marketing at owners of facilities, engineers and contractors. Because each plays a different role in a project, each is addressed differently in the effort to meet needs and expectations. The company’s normal marketing activities include participation in trade shows, one-on-one discussions with prospective clients and the use of a large network of manufacturers’ representatives. Buffalo Air Handling supplies brochures, samples and other support tools to sustain the activity of the manufacturers’ reps.
The company is under the direction of Bill Phelps, its president. Reporting to him are Jim Land, vice president of manufacturing; and Ted Krueger, vice president of sales. Another 250 employees help get the job done at headquarters and at two assembling facilities within 30 minutes of the main plant. Since 1996, Buffalo Air Handling has doubled its capacity.
This Virginia firm exhibits an overwhelming sense of working together, both internally between departments and externally with the representatives and the customers. The representatives and customers contribute early on to the design and layout phase of the project; and the inside personnel, who are familiar with air-handling units, fans and heat-transfer coils, work with them to ensure that the needs of the clients are met. In addition, Buffalo Air Handling has a full-time service group to support start-up, owner training, installation supervision and troubleshooting.
There is an openness evident at Buffalo Air Handling. Customers and prospects are encouraged to visit the company’s facilities. The company considers these visits important because they give customers and prospects the opportunity to see how good its equipment and facilities are. More importantly, it shows how valuable and educated Buffalo Air Handling’s employees are. Visitors ask questions when they are there, and they get answers.
Buffalo Air Handling’s multipurpose mission is to satisfy the needs of the customers by manufacturing a quality product to the highest standard of workmanship, and to satisfy their delivery requirements in a warm, friendly and courteous manner, thereby demonstrating a sincere appreciation of their business. The company also strives to satisfy the needs of the employees by providing a comfortable, safe work environment, fair treatment, recognition of accomplishments and a commitment to assist in their growth and career goals through training and development. It also works to satisfy the needs of the owners by providing adequate return on their investments and protecting their assets today and in the future. In addition, the company promises to operate in a manner consistent with the highest business ethics, which provides recognition from the community as a good corporate citizen.
Buffalo Air Handling has been a successful, caring supplier of air-handling equipment practically since the days the buffalo roamed free on the western plains. The company will continue in the tradition for as long as the river flows and the moon rises.