SUNY Oswego has partnered with Designer Hardwood Flooring CNY of East Seneca Street in Oswego in a Start-Up NY project—the college’s first—that holds promise for 19 new jobs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced.

The company will employ local hires as well as talented SUNY Oswego interns and cooperative-education students to participate in engineering, design and manufacture of panelized flooring that uses a patent-pending, first-to-market system, according to Sherry Marmon, majority owner and president of the company.

College President Deborah F. Stanley said Designer Hardwood Flooring’s designation demonstrates that Start-Up NY projects can encourage new local manufacturing while furthering such SUNY Oswego goals as experiential learning, college-to-career support and a strengthened greater Oswego economy.

“The company has pledged to integrate SUNY Oswego students into the business experience,” Stanley said. “It has agreed to use this facility as a training site for management, business administration and concepts such as lean manufacturing, energy conservation and design. This and future Start-Up-NY collaborations promise to materially advance the college’s commitment to provide applied learning experiences for our students, share our faculty expertise and state-of-the-art research facilities, and drive economic growth in Oswego County and regionally.”

‘Higher level of talent’

Start-Up NY enables new and expanding businesses to operate tax-free for 10 years on or near university campuses. The collaborations offer companies such as Designer Hardwood Flooring direct access to advanced research laboratories, experts in business and industry, and a ready pool of talented degree-seekers eager for real-world learning. In turn, the companies promise to deliver jobs—more than 3,600 pledged statewide to date among 128 approved businesses.

Joe Marmon, vice president of Designer Hardwood Flooring, said the company expects to “ramp up aggressively,” and aims to operate in two shifts within a year. Student talent is key to the business plan.

“We will bring qualified students in and develop their skills in a live manufacturing environment,” he said. “We will be offering internships and co-ops, and would hope eventually to hire some of the most talented graduates. We are using SUNY Oswego as a labor pool to draw a higher level of freshly trained talent.”

Designer Hardwood Flooring operates in a converted warehouse at 193 E. Seneca St. in Oswego. The state recently accepted the company’s portion of the site as eligible for Start-Up NY benefits that include, besides decade-long business tax relief, a five-year exemption from state and local income taxes for those hired and certified as net new employees and a reduction in those taxes for the next five years.

The County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency (COIDA), owner of the site, is largely responsible for introducing the Start-Up NY initiative to Sherry and Joe Marmon. 

“We are very pleased that Designer Hardwood Flooring CNY Inc. has been approved for the Start-Up NY program,” said L. Michael Treadwell, CEO of the economic development agency and executive director of Operation Oswego County. “Operation Oswego County and COIDA appreciate the long and strong partnership we have with SUNY Oswego on advancing business growth in Oswego County. Designer Hardwood Flooring truly fits the mold for the guidelines of the new Start-Up NY program. . . . We fully anticipate that Designer Hardwood Flooring will be scaling up their operations in the years to come and creating more jobs for Oswego County.”

Designer Hardwood Flooring’s panelized product feeds into the Marmons’ older, companion firm, Hardwood Transformations, which applies environmentally friendly finishes for their own and other companies’ flooring products.

Joe Marmon, who has 30 years’ experience in the flooring business, worked for and then bought the former Surelock Industries, which moved from Red Creek to Oswego in 2004. He has been president of Hardwood Transformations since 2011.

The Marmons said they worked with students and the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego to advance Hardwood Transformations’ finishing business and then to develop a business plan for the new flooring manufacturing company.

Sherry Marmon said the primary target market is retailers, including big-box ones, that cater to do-it-yourself consumers. “We use no formaldehydes, so the product is 100 percent green,” she said. “And buyers can achieve a 30 percent installation savings over individual planks.”

Pamela Caraccioli, deputy to the college president for external partnerships and economic development at SUNY Oswego, said, “Designer Hardwood Flooring is the first of what SUNY Oswego trusts will be a series of rich collaborations under Start-Up NY. The college offers so much in the way of business synergies: faculty members who are expert in both theory and practice, a renowned School of Business, state-of-the-art facilities in technology, engineering, math and the sciences, and motivated students eager for experience in business and industry.”

For more information, visit NY or call 315-312-3699.