Diversity in its product lineup keeps Pittsfield Plastics growing

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PITTSFIELD, MASS. (Dec. 30, 1:50 p.m. ET) — Producing more than 50 proprietary products is helping Pittsfield Plastics Engineering Inc. prove a niche player can compete and grow in a competitive environment.

The company, also known by its Precision Spools Inc. division, produces spools, cones, cores and bobbins. It also extrudes tubing profiles for filtration. According to Tom Walker, its president and CEO, about 80 percent of its business is proprietary products.

“Anything that you wind something on — we probably make it,” Walker said during a recent interview in Pittsfield.

A patented break-down reel that comes apart for easy shipping, an electrical junction-box bypass and a Belle body buffer are examples of some proprietary products the company produces.

The eclectic combination has encouraged the company to expand. It redesigned a 12,000-square-foot space it formerly had rented to Sinicon Plastics Inc., added new machinery and is planning for another 20,000-square-foot expansion in the next year or so.

In the last month, the company has installed two 500-ton Haitian injection presses. For its extrusion operation, it is also readying a CDS-brand puller that can pull up to 10 inches and an Appleton precision core cutter in a newly created space.

Pittsfield Plastics Engineering redesigned an area Sinicon had leased until moving to Dalton, Mass., in 2009. Pittsfield upgraded the electrical system, redid the floor, and added new lighting, an exhaust system, a cafeteria and an office to the plant manager to oversee the area.

The company has 96 employees working in the 80,000-square-foot facility, which usually operates 24 hours a day, five days a week, and when needed, seven days a week. It has added 11 new and used presses in the past year, bringing it up to 37, with clamping forces of 100-750 tons. It also has three extrusion lines, with the newest being a Welex model.

Walker said he co-owns the company with Duncan Cooper and Tom Holmes. Cooper serves as vice chairman and Holmes as chairman. Co-founder David Chiorgno, who sold the company in 1997, still works for the company as a consultant.

“We sold all different types of reels. Customers would say, ‘Can you make it better?’ and that’s how we picked up more market share,” Walker said.

The company grew by adding extrusion and profile extrusion to the mix — a lot for its own use, but it also gives customers more options.

He said sales have grown 22 percent so far this year and are approaching $15 million. Walker, who has more than 25 years of experience in plastics-related sales, said he expects good growth in the coming year as well. All areas, including custom molding and extrusion, have a lot of potential, he said.

The company is trying to come out with something new every month, according to account manager Nick Roth.

Products made by Pittsfield Plastics are sold in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, and in Canada, Europe and South America.