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Philadelphia molder ASK Plastics closing

By: Bill Bregar

November 30, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 30, 2:35 p.m. ET) — ASK Plastics Inc., a Philadelphia custom injection molder founded in 1945, is closing down, and Branford Group is set to auction off its equipment Dec. 12 — including several large-tonnage injection presses.

Andrew Vartanian, the president since 1990, said the recession hurt ASK.

“As the economy slowed over the past few years, we were not able to maintain a critical sales mass to sustain operations in a healthy manner,” he wrote in an email to Plastics News. “Cash-flow issues were an ongoing problem and as much as we tried we could not turn it around.”

ASK has moved its molding work to Injectron Corp. in Plainfield, N.J.

Branford, Conn.-based Branford Group will conduct the auction live at the plant and online. The gavel will fall to sell 17 injection molding presses. The largest ones are a 1995 Cincinnati Milacron with 1,500 tons of clamping force, a 1,000-ton 1995 Ube, a 1994 MIR of 1,134 tons and several presses around 700 tons.

Other machine brands include Ferromatik, Toshiba, Engel and Nissei. Most of the presses are from the mid-1990s.

The auction also will sell off auxiliary equipment, including 11 robots, temperature controllers, hot-runner controls, granulators and dryers.

Vartanian said his grandfather Harry Vartanian founded the company with two partners in 1945 and soon bought them out. At first ASK made wooden oars for the government, then the firm got into injection molding around 1950, making handles for automotive jumper cables.

His father, Andrew Vartanian Sr., and an uncle, Haig Vartanian, were partners in the business through the 1960s and 1970s. Vartanian, now the sole owner, has worked there for more than 35 years, starting as a machine operator and working his way up through every department, until he became president.

Despite ASK’s cash-flow problems, the company was paying its lender, but it struggled and eventually was unable to meet its obligations to suppliers, “who we always viewed as valued and essential business partners, many with whom we had successful long-term relationships,” Vartanian wrote.

ASK employed about 60 people. About 25 were laid off in the final days. Some found other jobs after they got a heads-up about the closing, he said.

ASK will close its doors at the end of the year when all the inventory is moved out, he wrote.

Vartanian said the decision to close the family business was “my most difficult business decision ever.”

Branford Group’s website said the auction is on behalf of the secured lender for the machinery, Capital Equipment Solutions LLC.