Gilman Bros. Co. invested $1.25 million to buy back a facility it built in Bozrah, Conn., more than two decades ago. As the new owner of its old digs, the firm reacquired a 100,000-square-foot facility adjacent to an older, 56,000-square-foot plant that houses its current laminated polystyrene foam board operations.
What are the company's plans for all that space? They're still in the making, said Evan Gilman, president. But they involve adding laminating equipment, reconfiguring production lines and using part of the new building for warehousing, he said in a recent telephone interview.
In 1973, Gilman Bros. built the 100,000-square-foot plant to house its high-impact PS sheet extrusion operations.
In 1981, the firm sold the HIPS division and plant to Massachusetts-based Winchester Corp., Gilman said. After that, the business ``changed hands'' a couple of times, then shut down, he said.
The building has been vacant since January, when the last tenant, Kaman Aerospace Corp., moved out, taking $2.5 million in equipment with it.
Gilman Bros.' main market niche is laminated PS foam board for signs, point-of-purchase displays and other graphics applications.
The company recently became exclusive North American distributor for Amoco Chemical Co.'s Artcor product line, a 100 percent PS foam-core board laminated with HIPS, Gilman said. Gilman Bros. also sells its own, similar line of boards called Duraplast, constructed for heavy-duty applications.
Gilman said the graphics market is growing away from paper, to plastic-laminated PS foam board, which is moisture- and warp-resistant for outdoor use and completely recyclable. The company sells its products through U.S. and foreign distributors, though it is a fairly small player among much-larger competitors, he said.
Gilman would not disclose his company's sales.
``The competition is tough and it's healthy,'' he said. ``The big guys do very well with the commodities. But service is where we can keep distributors happy.''
Bozrah has been home to Gilman Bros. since its 1897 founding as a textile manufacturer. Three generations of Gilmans have run the firm, including Evan and his brother Cyrus, who is vice president. The 156,000-square-foot complex sits in Bozrah's historical heart of industry, Gilman Village, named for the family, Gilman said. When textiles migrated South in the 1950s, the company turned to plastics.
Gilman Bros. employs 25.