High-Tech Start-Up NY Business is One of the First American Companies to Produce Its Own-Branded Electronic Tablets
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand opening of the new global headquarters of Bak USA LLC, one of the inaugural businesses to participate in START-UP NY, located on Buffalo’s East Side. The high-tech company, which is one of the first American firms to produce its own-branded electronic tablets, is located at Compass East and covers 10,000 square feet of space on the top floor of the former site of Sheehan Memorial Hospital at 425 Michigan Avenue.
“Bak’s decision to locate its global headquarters in Buffalo is another success story for this city and for START-UP NY,” Governor Cuomo said. “Investments like Bak’s add to Western New York’s growth and development and keep the State moving in the right direction.”
Kenneth Adams, Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner, said, “Today is a very exciting day for Buffalo as we celebrate the grand opening of the new global headquarters of Bak, one of the first businesses to join the Governor’s ground-breaking START-UP NY initiative. Bak is helping us create jobs and grow our economy, goals that we have pursued from the beginning of our administration and that START-UP NY has succeeded in achieving in a very short time. “
Howard Zemsky, incoming President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development said, “Governor Cuomo’s economic development efforts, including the game-changing START-UP NY initiative, are delivering significant results in Buffalo and throughout New York. Bak’s decision to open its new global headquarters here is the latest example of the Empire State’s ability to attract businesses and jobs from around the region, country and world, and I look forward to the company’s success in the Queen City.”
Bak, which committed to creating 100 jobs in Buffalo in the next year, began training its first employees on December 1, 2014 and has already produced more than 500 electronic tablets to date. It expects to create 80,000 devices in 2015. The company currently produces two models of its tablet, ranging in price from $100 to $140. One model is Wi-Fi only, while the other utilizes 3G data connections; a 4G model is in development.
Bak’s Buffalo business is based on the company’s work in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. There, Danish co-founders Ulla and JP Bak established a company called Sûrtab SA, located in Port-au-Prince, where they trained workers to manufacture devices. The goals of the business were to provide good-paying jobs to local residents and offer affordable, durable electronic tablets that would bridge the digital divide in education.
Ulla Bak, co-founder and president of Bak USA LLC, said, “Today is a celebration of a dream come true for Bak USA and our twenty members of the company family. In just six months, we’ve achieved so much and are creating the jobs we promised to Buffalo. I would like to express my deepest thanks to the START-UP NY program for making it possible for Bak to be part of Buffalo’s high-tech transformation. These connections are invaluable to cementing our social entrepreneurship model here in Buffalo and expanding it globally. I’d also like to say ‘thank you’ to all the local government and non-profit entities, as well as the countless individuals who have made us feel so at home here in Buffalo.”
JP Bak, co-founder of Bak USA LLC, said, “Today’s grand opening represents much more than the establishment of the company’s world headquarters in Buffalo. We have been blessed every step of the way and our journey is only beginning. We created Bak USA because we wanted to be able to put affordable products on the market which would help students learn all around the world, products that would last for a long time and that would truly make an impact where help was needed. While Bak USA is a very small step towards tackling this urgent problem, it is a step nonetheless: we can begin to contribute towards solving world illiteracy.”
As part of its local efforts, Bak will engage SUNY Buffalo engineering students in a senior design course that will provide students with hands-on experience and help the company advance product development and efficiency. The company also intends to collaborate with the School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership on social entrepreneurship programs and activities.
Buffalo Niagara Enterprise recently recruited respected filmmaker, John Paget, to create a video that captures “A Day in the Life of Bak USA.” The video can be viewed here.
SUNY Buffalo President Dr. Satish Tripathi said, “Bak believes strongly in the vision we are realizing in Buffalo, and shares our commitment to investing in our community and creating opportunities for the people who live here. We are delighted that Bak has chosen to be a key part of the bright future we are building for our great city, and the University at Buffalo is excited to partner with Bak USA in helping to make that future a reality.”
Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “Today highlights the momentum the START-UP NY program is bringing in the form of jobs to the East Side of Buffalo. I commend Bak USA on their mission to deliver technology to needed parts of the world while also providing needed local employment opportunities. I look forward to seeing the trend of companies relocating to Buffalo continue through 2015. I applaud Governor Cuomo and his team for securing this opportunity for the community in the East Side of Buffalo; I look forward to working with Bak USA in the future.”
State Senator Tim Kennedy said, "I applaud Bak USA for anchoring its global headquarters here in Buffalo, and welcome Ulla and JP to the City of Good Neighbors. They are key examples of successful business owners taking advantage of START-UP NY's benefits, creating opportunity and establishing a collaborative relationship with the community. By continuing to bring good-paying jobs to Compass East, we are building our workforce on Buffalo's east side and keeping jobs here in Western New York where they belong. "
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "This is what Buffalo’s progress is all about – attracting new industry to our city and putting our people to work right now. Today’s grand opening of the Bak USA manufacturing facility comes at an exciting time for Buffalo, with more construction activity underway than we’ve seen in 50 years. I thank J.P. and Ulla Bak for their commitment to Buffalo, breathing new life into this manufacturing operation on the former Sheehan Hospital site and providing great job opportunities to refugee and low income families who were drawn to Buffalo to start new lives and careers. Thank you for being part of the great momentum in Buffalo.”
County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Congratulations to Bak USA on the grand opening of their new facility, along with my sincere thanks for their vision and determination to locate here in Erie County. The Baks could have located their tablet- and phone assembly operations anywhere, but chose here as the place to build both their business and our community. Bak USA’s business model provides opportunities for disadvantaged individuals to get in on the ground floor of assembly operations, learning the high-tech trade and developing a skill set that will support them and their families. This is the new Erie County, and businesses like Bak USA are helping in our economic transformation while building our community as well.”
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “This is a story that goes beyond traditional economic development. Bak USA is investing in Western New York, our workforce, our students and our City, and as a result people at their headquarters here in Buffalo will be a part of a larger effort to provide tools to promote literacy worldwide.”
Thomas Kucharski, President & CEO, Buffalo Niagara Enterpirse, said, “Our staff is proud to have established strong professional and personal relationships with Ulla and JP Bak. Advanced manufacturing and foreign direct investment opportunities are priorities for our region and important elements of BNE’s strategic outlook. Becoming one of the first PC tablet assemblers anywhere in the U.S., accompanied by such meaningful job creation and investment in our urban core reinforces the value of this industry cluster, and the fact programs like Start-Up NY can help Buffalo Niagara successfully compete in the global marketplace.”
About Bak USA LLC
Bak USA LLC is a multi-national social enterprise company that seeks to further universal education, employment, and universal connectivity through the assembly and sale of low-cost PC tablets and phones. Founded by the Bak family, the company plans to continue its roll-out of niche tablet factories by employing dynamic members of the city’s local community to assemble its devices in downtown Buffalo.