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Blackwell expands staff, equipment

By: Frank Esposito

December 27, 2012

HOUSTON (Dec. 27, 4:20 p.m. ET) — Plastics processor Blackwell Plastics Inc. has grown by adding machinery and personnel.

Houston-based Blackwell, an injection molder and extruder, added a 520-ton Negri Bossi electric press in October. The machine is the firm’s 28th injection molding machine, but its first all-electric, President Jeff Applegate said in a Dec. 27 phone interview.

Applegate described the Negri Bossi machine as “reclaimed and almost new,” adding that it was acquired for less than $500,000. It’s Blackwell’s largest machine based on shot size and its second-largest based on tonnage, he said.

The machine will be used to make a variety of products, and its capacity already is sold out, Applegate added. Blackwell also began using Negri Bossi’s Amico-brand remote-service system in October, and added dryers and other auxiliary equipment during 2012 as well.

On the personnel side, Blackwell in 2012 hired industry veterans Carl Kilcrease and Scott Kelley. Kilcrease was brought in as the firm’s manager of molding operations. He has more than 20 years of injection molding experience, including a stint of more than 10 years with Nypro Inc. Kelley was hired as Blackwell’s director of sales and engineering and recently was promoted to vice president and named a director. He has 22 years of industry experience, most recently with injection molder Stellar Plastics Inc. in San Marcos, Texas.

Blackwell also added 12 production workers in 2012 and plans to add seven to 10 more in 2013, Applegate said. The firm currently employs 83 in 90,000 square feet of manufacturing space spread out over four buildings.

“We are using this time of uncertainty to invest in people, plant and equipment to position the company for future success,” he said in a Dec. 21 news release. “We believe that there is always going to be a need for a good regional custom injection molder and, based on this belief, we are working to make sure our team is in a position to win.”

Blackwell doesn’t release annual sales totals, but Applegate said the firm’s sales were up 14 percent in 2012 and are expected to be up 15 percent in 2013.

“We are steadily growing our customer base and have a strong pipeline of new products,” he said in the release. “I believe we are at a tipping point in our business and are experiencing the growth in revenue and profits that come from a solid, well-established team.

“Regardless of our government’s policy or economic conditions outside our control, there will always be growth opportunities.”