Mayor Burrell Announces Company Relocating to Village
Story and Photo By John Thomas
Last week Village Mayor John Burrell announced RAFA Systems Inc. would be relocating from their small facility in Cattaraugus to Ellicottville. The Mayor announced the news via email to the Village Board of Trustees, who responded with enthusiasm. Reached by phone, the President of RAFA Systems, Jason Opferbeck expressed his elation about the move, “I’m pretty excited about it as well.” The company will be moving into 5 Park Avenue, the old Meritool building.
RAFA Systems manufactures remote control and monitoring systems used by municipal water and sewer departments. The systems integrate with asset management software, GIS systems, and Diamond Maps. The company creates software and smartphone apps to allow data analysis and control of pumps, valves, and motors in the field. “What we’ve done is created an inexpensive way to bring this (monitoring and control) to smaller communities,” Mr. Opferbeck says.
Mr. Opferbeck is the former Public Works Supervisor for Cattaraugus and Gowanda, which gives him experience with water and sewer systems. When asked about the potential market for his product, the President responds with the typical energy of the entrepreneur, “I’ve got a huge market, the whole country and then some.” He mentions the company has sent two demo systems to Brazil. Currently, RAFA Systems has seven employees and is looking to hire more in the near term, and up to 30 eventually. Opferbeck says they are hoping to have a tech support call center in Ellicottville as well. He says contractors and employees at 5 Park Avenue will all be local, “The big push in my mind is to keep everything local in Cattaraugus County.”
According to Mr. Burrell, a friend of his who is a member of the RAFA board stopped by his office to say hello. The board member mentioned the company was looking for larger headquarters somewhere in the county. They already had two locations in mind, but the Mayor said: “We want that business here.” The Mayor, Mr. Opferbeck, and members of the RAFA board had several meetings and looked at the old Meritool facility. They also met with Corey Wiktor of the CCIDA. The business owner says, “After a few meetings with John, he convinced me to call Ellicottville home.” Work on the building will begin in the next two weeks. The company should be established in its new home in January. The Mayor was effusive about the move. “They’ve got a great product and a great future in Ellicottville. We want to do everything we can do to welcome him to Ellicottville.”