By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — One of the county’s largest employers is poised to continue its expansion in Medina, with the potential for hundreds of existing and new jobs coming to the village in the coming years.
Claims Recovery Financial Services has grown from a kitchen-table operation to a 400-employee enterprise, with two shifts sharing space at the business’ Albion headquarters due to a growth in the depth of services to banks and lending institutions.
CRFS is planning to move their growing business to an approximately 50,000-square-foot office that would be located in a renovated Building 5 of the Olde Pickle Factory complex. More than 300 new employees would be trained and hired in the three-year period following the move.
The $7 million project is dependent on an unspecified amount of Empire State Development job-development grant funding in addition to a village-sponsored application for $750,000 in Office of Community Renewal funds. The OCR funds would be managed by the Orleans County Land Redevelopment Corporation and loaned to CRFS for equipment purchases.
In the short term, CRFS and Roger Hungerford, the owner of the Olde Pickle Factory, have reached an agreement to lease and renovate 15,000 sq. ft. of temporary office space in Building 11 of the Park Avenue business site. That site will house approximately 200 employees beginning in March until the permanent single location for the business is established.
Orleans County Economic Development Agency Vice President of Business Development Gabrielle Barone detailed the project in a public hearing Monday at the Medina Village Board’s workshop meeting. Barone said the project would ensure a business that has grown in Orleans County will be able to stay here long term.
”This will be a major employer in the village, maybe the biggest in the county,” Barone said. “To have someone supplying so many new jobs is absolutely stunning.”
CRFS, founded in 2002 by Jodi Gaines, provides post-foreclosure claim processing management for banks and lenders with loans that have gone into default. Those industries refer loans mitigated or liquidated by foreclosure to CRFS, which prepares and files claims to recover delinquent funds.
CRFS Special Projects Manager Kelly Sargent said the business has added 150 employees since last summer, with an average of 25 new employees each week.
”We’re expanding the client base we have now and our clients want us to do more,” Sargent said. “There’s a lot of pride in being able to create these jobs in Medina.”
According to a request filed with the Orleans Economic Development Agency for sales tax abatement and grant assistance, the business had reached maximum office space at its 231 East Avenue office.
That lead CRFS, which has annual sales of $18 million to explore potential relocation to Atlanta, Dallas or other major metropolitan areas in addition to sites within Orleans County. Barone said “eleventh-and-a-half-hour” talks between Hungerford and CRFS led to the current proposal.
Village officials unanimously and enthusiastically backed the project and the grant application, which will be managed by the County EDA/IDA at no cost to the village.
“This is a big win for our county, our community and CRFS,” Mayor Andrew Meier said. “This is one that we could have lost to another state ... this will have a huge economic impact.”
Barone noted that major employers like Brunner International, Takeform/Quorum and Western New York Energy benefited from past municipal-sponsored grant
applications.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.