Custom thermoformer Sham-rock Plastics Inc. is investing in new equipment and has earned a local business award. The company recently invested $1.5 million in three machines - a thermoformer and two five-axis computer numerically controlled routers. It now has 50 employees, up from 20 two years ago.
The Peoria, Ill.-based firm received an Outstanding Small Business Award from the Peoria Chamber of Commerce.
Shamrock ranked No. 89 in Plastics News' 1996 survey of North American thermoformers, with 1995 sales of $4 million. Sales in 1995 increased 81 percent over 1994 and sales manager Jack Hathaway expects this year's sales to exceed $3.5 million.
After several years of financial distress, Shamrock reached stability and in the past two years has grown rapidly. Nine-and-a-half years ago, Mary Cay Westphal bought the company and is credited with turning it around.
``Basically, the first year or two, she worked on payment plans with creditors,'' said Hathaway.
In the fall of 1990, the firm purchased its first five-axis CNC router.
``It was quite a turnaround,'' Hathaway said. ``It represented a substantial investment for us.''
Because Shamrock has no proprietary products, employees set out to educate customers about ``what we do,'' he said.
Shamrock began consulting, asking customers to ask about anything about plastics, even if it did not deal with thermoforming. The company now consults, custom designs and molds products for customers such as its largest, Caterpillar Inc., which makes earth-moving vehicles.
The 28-year-old firm customizes vacuum or pressure formed plastic parts from ABS, polyethylene and polystyrene in its 30,000-square-foot facility. Shamrock also targets the food, automotive, boating, medical, advertising and packaging industries.
To receive the award, Sham-rock needed to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce, em-ploy 150 or less, demonstrate integrity and ethics in business dealings and have a record of growth in sales and/or job creation.
In addition, the firm could not be a subsidiary or division of a large company and it had to be involved in community activities in the Peoria area.