As the new owner of Blackstone Advanced Technologies, Ricky Turner is among a small group of young entrepreneurs working to keep Jamestown's economic climate alive.
One of Chautauqua County's youngest business owners, Turner, 28, employs seven full-time engineers and technicians, along with 88 skilled metal manufacturers at 86 Blackstone Ave.
"I was looking for maybe a startup business, or a business that helped existing businesses," Turner said, adding that after graduating from Cornell University in May 2013 with a master's in business administration, it was a goal to return to Jamestown with his wife Heather after a five-year absence.
Ricky and Heather Turner, the new owners of Blackstone Advanced Technologies, are pictured. Blackstone specializes in the metal products, such as these sheets of stainless steel, which were shaped with the help of a press.
by Katie Atkins
"There aren't many young people returning to the area, and there aren't a lot of companies in Chautauqua County hiring MBAs," he said.
The opportunity to purchase Blackstone from former owner Daniel Black was the deciding factor in returning to the area, along with strong family roots.
Turner's father owns Matric Limited, an electronics manufacturing company located in Seneca, Pa., while his grandfather owned Falconer Glass.
While the future of Blackstone was hanging in the balance as of last year, other investors from outside the area had shown interest, Turner said. It was his and Heather's goal to preserve the more than 100 years of manufacturing at 86 Blackstone Ave.
As of last week, they passed the 90-day mark of ownership.
"Government work is the bread and butter of Blackstone," Turner said, adding that the company's specialty is fabricated metal, such as components for submarines and furniture for Navy vessels.
Heather Turner works on the public relations side of the operation, marketing products and keeping in tune with existing and potential customers.
Daily, sheets of stainless steel and aluminum are delivered and crafted into various products with the help of lasers and presses, which have the ability to deliver up to 320 tons of pressure and occupy much of the 275,000-square-foot facility.
The complete front end of a locomotive engine was recently manufactured, while additional orders have been received. Also, roof components for transit systems in both Denver and California are currently in production at the Jamestown facility.
While ownership is still new, Turner said he's had tremendous support from County Executive Vince Horrigan, and Congressman Tom Reed, who announced his re-election campaign at Blackstone on March 19.
Reed said the focus of his campaign is to create jobs, while Turner's goal is to continue to create and maintain business in Jamestown.
"In light of all the news we hear, with job losses from businesses like ConAgra and Premier Lakewood, to see a new entrepreneur come in and take over this business is really a great story," Horrigan said. "The Turners are one of the true bright spots within some of our younger business professionals in Chautauqua County."
Some of Turner's employees have worked at Blackstone since the mid-1990s as skilled welders, painters and metal crafters.
Through strengthening the company's customer base in nearby cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh, he hopes to hire more employees over time.
Bill Daly, executive director for the county Industrial Development Agency, also lauded Turner's efforts.
"It's so nice when you see somebody like Ricky Turner coming back to the community and buying a local business," he said. "The Turner family has a long history in our area, and it's wonderful to see the third generation involved in Chautauqua County industry."