PACIFIC INDUSTRIES OPENING $1.5 MILLION PLANT

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A small step next door will mean a giant leap in manufacturing capacity for Pacific Industries Inc., a maker of vinyl in-ground pool liners.

Pacific, a member of Cookson Group plc's specialty molding group, will add as many as 50 employees to its staff of 100, and will buy $450,000 worth of new equipment for a new plant adjacent to its current facility in Scotia, N.Y. Floor space will double, to 120,000 square feet.

Costs for the plant and equipment will total about $1.5 million, with another $100,000-$150,000 coming from the state for employee training, said Bruce Quay, president of Cookson's recreational division.

``We feel good [that] many of the people we have hired have been recent layoffs from other industries in the Albany area,'' Quay said, noting the state's willingness to pick up some of the retraining tab influenced Pacific's decision to stay in the area.

The state also agreed to improve highway access to the plant's industrial park.

The new Scotia plant will be the keystone in Pacific's plans to increase annual production of liners to 75,000, from 50,000, Quay said. Pacific's other plants in Toronto and Atlanta also will contribute to the total.

The company started with an 8,000-square-foot plant in Latham, N.Y., Quay said, and has added 40,000 square feet in Atlanta and 20,000 in Toronto, in addition to Scotia.

``We've gone from being a bit player doing a few thousand liners, to an international player doing 50,000,'' he said.

Pacific uses automated design and cutting processes on flexible PVC sheets to ``custom fit any hole in the ground,'' Quay said.

Pacific also makes panels and other pool parts at a structural foam molding and thermoforming plant in nearby Latham.

London-based Cookson Group also operates EPC/Loudon Plastics, which produces plastic pallets at the Latham plant and facilities in Mora, Minn., and Essex, England.

While New York's package of incentives helped keep the Scotia plant in the state, the firm is analyzing efficiency at all of its plants to develop a companywide molding strategy.

``A long-term commitment for competitive power pricing in Latham will be a big factor'' in keeping the facility there, Quay said.

The Latham operations are more power-intensive than those in Scotia, he said.

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