J.L. Clark is adding injection molding capacity for plastic closures and other packaging at its plant in Rockford, Ill. The company's proprietary dispensing closures, used on aseptic cartons, are driving growth, Clark President Ron Moreau said in a prepared statement.
Injection molded plastic packaging makes up roughly $12 million of the firm's $72 million in annual sales, according to Tim Gardner, vice president of sales.
Clark is expanding its 40,000-square-foot Rockford facility by 25,000 square feet, to make room for an undisclosed number of presses, Gardner said by telephone Aug. 22.
Currently the plant houses about 25 injection molding machines and 55 workers. Clark will bring on employees as needed, eventually as many as 50 more, he said. The added capacity should kick in by January, said Gardner.
Linnich, Germany-based PKL Verpackungssysteme GmbH, which makes 1- and 2-liter aseptic packaging for milk, wine, juices and bottled water, is Clark's only customer for the Combitop dispensing closures in Europe and the United States. Clark and PKL subsidiary Combibloc U.S.A. of Columbus, Ohio, spent four years developing the proprietary polypropylene closure, including the machinery and proper hot melt to apply it to the package, Gardner said.
Clark's other injection molding business comprises boxes for products such as Sucrets loz-enges and Curaid bandages, PP living-hinge spice can tops and a one-piece dispensing closure with a spout for liquid products, such as shampoo or household cleaners. Just last year Clark replaced Sucrets' tin box, which it had manufactured for 35 years, with a plastic version.
The market for aseptic packaging, already strong in both the United States and Europe, still is growing, Gardner said. Domestic demand is mainly for 1-liter packages or individual-serving drink boxes for children, though the U.S. market is widening to encompass more diverse items, such as shelf-stable milk, he said. In Europe, where the bulk of Clark's Combitop closures end up, aseptic packaging already is aimed at more multiuse applications.
Among Clark's products in nonplastics markets are decorative metal containers, such as bandage and spice cans, extruded aluminum tubes for pharmaceutical creams and adhesives, spools for the wire industry and battery jackets.
Clark is part of the Clarcor Consumer Products Group, also based in Rockford.