By: Roger Renstrom
May 24, 2013
GREENEVILLE, TENN. -- A Tennessee molding plant that once made TV cabinets for Sylvania, Philco and Magnavox products is once again for sale.
Chasan LLC of Knoxville, Tenn., owns the Greeneville, Tenn., structure and property, and President Charlie White contracted with an auctioneer to sell plastics processing and other equipment on the premises next month. The 63-acre property has a 1.1 million-square-foot building with 89 loading docks, a rail spur and 1,600 parking spaces.
Equipment includes 14 Cincinnati and two Van Dorn injection presses with a clamping-force range of 300-1,500 tons and vintages from 1985-92.
A unit of Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV of Amsterdam used the plant from the early 1980s for production of TV set cabinets.
The subsidiary, Philips Consumer Electronics Co. of Knoxville, Tenn., sold the plant to GC Capital LLC of Greeneville in May 1997 and committed to buy TV sets from co-owners White and George Taylor. The entrepreneurs operated the injection molding portion of the business as Creative Molding LLC.
The operation was providing about 60 percent of its output for Philips’ brands and the remainder for private labels until production ended in 2006 as the movement of television housings began heading to low-cost locations.
But soon Nick Lykon led a revival that included the former plant manager and took advantage of inexpensive rent and utilities.
Operating as Creative Molding of America LLC from 2007 through May 2011, “we went from [unprofitable] TV cabinets to a profit-making business in 4½ years,” said Lykon, who was the company’s president. Up to 48 workers molded housewares-type products such as coat hangers, shoe boxes and drawers; cord reels and wraps; and customized furniture. Other production with the larger-capacity equipment, such as three 1,500-ton presses, included outdoor lawn furniture and Adirondack deck chairs.
“We were getting overflow from another manufacturer,” Lykon said.
About 70 percent of the resin was sourced from automotive, post-consumer and film scrap and reprocessed into recycled material at a related facility in Sneedville, Tenn., about 35 miles from Greeneville.
The level of Philips’ early investment in equipment and the legacy impressed Lykon.
“The TV company spent millions to set up the shop” correctly, Lykon said. “Every machine runs to a central conveyor system. Silos feed resin to where material is needed.”
In the next iteration, Spuds Inc. of Dwight, Ill., purchased the intact manufacturing operation and occupied the site during the portion of 2011 from June 1 through Dec. 31. Spuds designs and makes products using natural and organic raw materials. In Greeneville, among other things Spuds was manufacturing baby cups from potato starch resin. A lack of success led to the plant closing.
Charlie and Sandra White formed Chasan in 1995 as an investment and real estate holdings company. In 1997, Chasan acquired a 50 percent interest in the Greeneville land and buildings and an interest in the equipment and operations of the television production plant. In 2002, Chasan acquired the other 50 percent from Taylor.
Prospective bidders can preview the equipment at the Greeneville plant June 4. Branford Auctions LLC of Branford, Conn., will start the online bidding process June 5 and conclude early June 6.
White, as landlord, is selling the assets.