Buffalo's homegrown computer maker showed off its new expansion and manufacturing operation on Buffalo's East Side on Tuesday. Bak USA headquarters continues to expand in Compass East, on the site of the old Sheehan Hospital.
When Bak first opened and said it would build computers in Buffalo, New York, there was a certain amount of laughter at competing giant corporations in faraway places. However, Bak has now grown from 15 to 80 workers and hopes to be up to 100 next year.
The company has taken over an additional floor in Compass East, building computers in that space and using a robot to help with the construction. President and Co-founder Ulla Bak said it shows what people working together can do to make things better for everyone.
"We come from near and we come from afar, Bak said. "We are Western New Yorkers We are people from Kenya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Congo, Uganda, Taiwan China, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, but, first and foremost, at the end of the day, we are Buffalonians."
Chief Technologies Officer and Co-founder Christian Bak said the company is a social enterprise and it works.
"Thank you for showing that the model works," he said. "Local contribution. Local collaboration. Local product insight and partnerships. Those things actually do end up making a huge difference and we're going to show that not only do they make a huge impact here, in the communities that we serve, but they actually also end up producing some really cool products that can be utilized around the world."
The company's three products are a tablet, a computer heavily sold to schools, another computer - the Seal - designed for use in impossible weather conditions or underwater. It is so rugged the computer was being shown off by being dunked in a fish tank and then operated to show how effectively the Seal is protected, capable of meeting military specifications.
Erie County Executive Poloncarz said he owns a Bak tablet and he uses it to show what Buffalonians can do.
"People are like, 'Oh, what is that? It doesn't look like an Apple. It doesn't look like what we normally buy,'" Poloncarz said. "I say, 'No, it's a Bak.' And they look and go, 'Huh?' And I turn it around and say, 'Look what it says on the back, the back of the Bak. Assembled in Buffalo, New York.' And everyone's eyes just widen, 'How is that possible? Everything's made in China. Everything's made overseas.'"