A Montreal-area firm plans to set up a PET preform plant in Little Rock, Ark., to supply its bottled water plant and other customers. American Fiber Industries will spend about $4 million to build a 12,000-square-foot plant and equip it with injection molding and related equipment. The plant will begin operating early next year with initial capacity of about 60 million PET preforms per year, according to Ahmad Hbouss, the firm's chairman.
Hbouss said in a telephone interview from Mirabel, Quebec, that American Fiber will install a Krupp injection press to make the preforms and another, undetermined press to make as many as 50 million bottle caps annually, primarily for offshore exports.
Hbouss is majority owner of American Fiber, a limited liability company, and of Nora Beverages Inc., a natural spring water bottler also in Mirabel. The Little Rock plant will supply Nora with preforms, and Hbouss will look for other customers. Nora now makes some of its PET preforms for its captive blow molding operation in Mirabel and buys some on the market. Nora spokeswoman Anita Jarjour said Nora probably will continue sourcing some preforms from outside suppliers after Little Rock comes on stream.
Nora's Mirabel plant has annual capacity to make 50 million preforms and 200 million PET bottles. It does not make plastic caps.
Hbouss said Little Rock is well-situated for distribution to international markets. American Fiber might invest as much as $25 million in Little Rock during several years and expand the facility to 100,000 square feet.
Nora Beverages began captive bottle blow molding in 1986, when its Naya-brand spring water plant started tapping an aquifer under Mirabel.
Hbouss said his company was a pioneer in the use of PET bottles for spring water when it began using a Husky two-stage stretch blow molding machine and Eastman Chemical Co. PET resins.