Sanvidge ready to lead county IDA

Kevin Sanvidge said his experience in big business will aid him in his position as the new executive director of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency.

Sanvidge was announced as Bill Daly’s replacement by County Executive Vince Horrigan this past week.

Daly’s retirement is effective May 31.

Sanvidge previously served as executive vice president of administration for Cliffstar Corporation from 1999-2011. Prior to working at Cliffstar, he worked at Al Tech Specialty Steel Corporation for 21 years, where he served in various management positions including vice president of administration.

“My experience with both of those companies, one national and the other international, has allowed me the opportunity to understand the needs of both successful businesses and businesses in distress,” Sanvidge said.

Al Tech, now known as Dunkirk Specialty Steel, ended up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1997. Two years later, Al Tech was no longer bankrupt, but Sanvidge left prior to the company opening its doors under new ownership.

“Successful businesses and those in financial distress both have needs,” he said. “That perspective of going into it with a business mentality is extremely helpful.”

Sanvidge also explained he is rejoining the workforce after three years of retirement.

“I will be getting out into the community and making personal contacts with as many potential new businesses as I can,” Sanvidge said. “The border is not going to stop for me in Chautauqua County. It could be all across the U.S. and I’ll be out there selling everything Chautauqua County has to offer.”

He is a member of the board of directors for Lake Shore Savings Bank, and serves as chairman of the bank’s Compensation Committee. He is also a member of its Corporate Governance Committee, and is former chairman of the county Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.

“I also come from a bit of an agricultural background,” he said. “I was responsible for the procurement of all the concord grapes, cranberries and prunes at Cliffstar, and I know a lot of people in the grape business around here.”

Cliffstar Corporation was purchased by Cott Corporation in 2010. Cott, which manufactures, packages and distributes carbonated beverages, wanted to break into the private label juice and sports drink business.

“Wal-Mart was our largest customer, and I dealt with very large companies when I was at Cliffstar,” Sanvidge said.

As he transitions into his new position, Sanvidge said he wants to build on the foundation Bill Daly has in place, while he believes manufacturing and distribution are the most popular means of business in Chautauqua County.

“To grow on the agricultural piece of economics may be more of a challenge, not that it couldn’t happen,” Sanvidge said, adding that it’s vital to keep and protect the concord grape business. “We want to make sure we maintain what we have here and have a market for what we have here. I think we have opportunities on the manufacturing side too.”

Horrigan said the search for a new director was extensive, and that he had used a search team made of members from the county legislature, the IDA and the business community.

“We came to a unanimous decision that Kevin is the right guy to lead our economic development program in Chautauqua County,” Horrigan said.

An open meeting will be held on Sanvidge’s first day, Tuesday, at 10 a.m. in the board room of the IDA at 200 Harrison St. in Jamestown.