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A Virginia liquor company is helping to set up a PET bottle production facility near its distillery to save on transportation costs and cut delivery time.

A. Smith Bowman Distillery Inc. of Fredericksburg, Va., has taken a 20 percent equity position in the bottle operation, called Bowman Containers Inc., according to John Adams Jr., president of Bowman Distillery.

Bowman's partner in the new outfit is American Container Inc., a PET bottle producer in Syracuse, N.Y.

Bowman Container will start operating in June with two blow molding machines that are being moved from American Container's Syracuse plant. The machines will have capacity to make 62 million bottles a year, according to Adams.

His company will buy much of the plant's output for its liquor and spring water sales, and Bowman Containers will sell the rest in local markets, Adams said.

Bowman Distillery now sources bottles from several producers but American Container is a key supplier, selling about 25 million 1-liter bottles annually to the distillery.

American Container has five blow molding machines and nine injection presses that make PET preforms, said plant manager Rick Tadlock.

The company's major markets are liquor and bottled water. It is an affiliate of Comcraft Canada Ltd. of Toronto.

Adams said his company is building a 43,000-square-foot plant, most of which will be occupied by Bowman Containers.

Tadlock will be general manager of the bottle operation, which will employ about six.