Stanark Foam Plastics' new owner, Steve Bonds, spent nine months learning the ropes before buying the North Little Rock, Ark., firm in December. That's when Bonds traded in his commercial real estate cap to take over the former Stanark Plastics Inc. In February 1994, Stanark's owners gave Bonds an option to buy the firm while he worked at its North Little Rock plant and learned the expanded polystyrene foam business.
Bonds described the apprenticeship period as ``an eye-opening experience.''
``I drove myself and everybody crazy out here, trying to learn things and searching for improvements,'' he said in a recent telephone interview. ``But it's smoothed out now.''
Stanark operates out of a 36,000-square-foot leased plant with two expanders, two molds, two cutting lines and an electric-eye cutter, he said.
Sixty percent of its business comes from manufacturing EPS foam blocks, which are sold to the packaging and construction industries, and to manufacturers of industrial products, Bonds said. Sto Corp.'s exterior insulation finished systems make up the rest: Stanark is Sto's Arkansas distributor of EIFS, which Bonds characterized as ``synthetic stucco,'' used in the construction of exterior walls. Sto is based in Atlanta.
Packaging is a substantial market for Stanark, which cuts and tailors its EPS blocks. About 90 percent of its manufacturing is in customized products. Stanark also makes products developed by AFM Corp., an affiliation of 20 member companies that collectively develop and market new products and uses for EPS. AFM is based in Excelsior, Minn.
Bonds characterized Stanark as a ``relatively small, boutique-type company, specializing in a high degree of service.'' He would not disclose Stanark's sales, but he said he hopes to boost its current business by investing in repairs and modernizing equipment.
``We're never going to be a huge $10 million company, but I think there's some room for fairly substantial growth,'' he said.
Bonds is president of SAB Enterprises Inc., which he formed to purchase Stanark.