By Jill Nagy
In only three years, Empire Exhibits and Displays Inc., has outgrown its production and warehouse space in Mechanicville and plans to add another 5,000 square feet of storage and warehouse space on 2.7 acres in Halfmoon.
“We’ve maxed out and had a chance to set ourselves up for future growth,” owner and CEO Craig Koehler said.
The project has been in the works for about a year, Koehler said. The company bought the land for $370,000 last December and hopes to break ground this fall.
Estimated total cost is $500,000.
Both the present quarters in Mechanicville and the planned new space in Halfmoon are former DiSiena Furniture buildings.
Koehler said that he drew up the design for the new building and then turned it over to Clift Engineering Co. for refinement. Several construction companies will be involved in the work.
Empire designs and builds exhibits and displays for trade shows, retail stores and galleries. About half the company’s work is for trade shows and events and most of the rest is for museums, including the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park and the Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs.
The company was founded in 1959. Koehler, an industrial designer, bought the company, then located in Albany, in 2005.
The current facility in Mechanicville is 14,000 square feet of which about 10,000 square feet are devoted to production space. The rest is storage, primarily a temperature-controlled warehouse for displays and materials The company also rents outdoor space for storage of boats and recreational vehicles and plans to provide indoor space next year.
The company’s owner grew up in Niskayuna and attended Niskayuna High School and then the Pratt Institute in New York City. After college, he worked as a draftsman for General Electric and then for a GE spinoff that did trade show designs.
In 2001, he went out on his own as Koehler Industrial Design and, in 2005, he bought his present company.
The company website is www.empireexhibits.com.