Delta Plastics Corp. is investing $12.2 million to boost total film and bag-making capacity at its three extrusion plants to 90 million pounds per year. The 21/2-year project, which will add 73,000 square feet of manufacturing space and nine Battenfeld Gloucester extruders, is geared toward developing niche products, and maximizing profit and efficiency at Delta's film facilities in Newark, N.J., Chicago, and Marshville, N.C., said President Irwin Friedman. However, long before that time line elapses, the Newark-based film maker hopes to be anchored in the Southwest, by acquiring a firm in that region, he said by telephone June 7.
Delta, part of Sigma Plastics Group of Lyndhurst, N.J., contributed about $40 million last year to Sigma's $315 million in total film and sheet sales.
At its Newark plant, Delta will spend $4 million to reconfigure 85,000 square feet to make way for three new lines for extruding and converting polyethylene laminating film, shrink film and other customized products. An expanded technical department will focus on specialty niches, or ``new families within [Delta's] framework of products,'' including linear low density and metallocene-modified films, Friedman said.
The new, higher-margin niche products will justify the expense of using metallocene blends, he added. The first line will be up and running there by December.
Early this year Delta hired Thomas Long to spearhead special projects. Harry Anthony is general manager of the technical department.
The Marshville plant, now 50,000 square feet, will grow to 90,000 square feet by next summer, to accommodate two more lines - one in December 1997, another in August 1998 - an investment of $3.2 million, he said.
``We're doing the same thing in Chicago,'' Friedman said.
There, Delta will add 33,000 square feet and four extruders at its 50,000-square-foot plant.
``That will take us from the capacity of the present time, from 60 million pounds a year, to 90 million pounds by [year's end] 1998, when the last machine is installed,'' he said.
The company already has placed more people at the plants, to cover new customers and capacity. By the project's end, Delta will have added 68 employees, including sales, manufacturing and office workers, to its current work force of 200.
A Southwest plant was part of the long-term plan when Fried-man and Alfred Teo, who share the post of Delta's chief executive officer, started the company in 1985.
``Every four years, we were to have a new plant built. That was my plan,'' Friedman said.
Not only has Delta kept to that goal, it consistently has stayed ahead of schedule. For two years, the firm has been growing its Southwest customer base, shipping mainly out of Chicago and eating the freight costs, in anticipation of the coming move.
If Delta does not buy a South-west company by December 1997, it will look around for a facility and build a film operation from scratch, according to Friedman. By 2001, the film maker hopes to have a foothold in the West Coast, ``but definitely not California,'' he said, noting that the state's restrictive laws do not allow the kind of flexibility needed to be profitable.
Teo also is Delta's chairman, and chairman and CEO at Sigma.