CORRY, PA. - Erie Plastics Co. has embarked on an ambitious campaign to boost production and establish an identity for new proprietary lines of stock plastic closures over the next five years. As part of that effort, the firm recently introduced a new opening and dispensing technology for containers for granular products. Erie Plastics also is contemplating opening satellite molding plants in the southern and midwestern United States. The company is preparing to open an eastern satellite plant in Massa-chusetts, and recently announced plans to buy or build a 433,000-square-foot operation near its Corry headquarters.
Paul Roche, president of the custom injection molder, said in a July 11 interview in Corry that the ``Pour Spout'' is the first of a number of proprietary closure lines the firm is developing. It has created the system for products such as baby food, powdered milk, and laundry and dish washing detergent at Erie Plastics' new innovation center at its 180,000-square-foot plant in Corry.
``In the past, we have been content to fill the needs of our customers as sole-source or near sole-source suppliers,'' Roche said. ``But now we are interested in creating proprietary stock products.''
The pour spout has a wide range of apertures to make dispensing of granulated products easier, and it contains no metal pieces and is tamper-evident.
The closure's new ``bellows'' makes the spout flush with the carton wall initially, and does not interfere with the stacking and shipping of pre-packed cartons. It is designed to be assembled at the carton manufacturers' facilities.
Roche said a new closure for Sunny Delight, a Procter & Gamble Co. drink, will hit the market in the second quarter of 1997. Erie Plastics is close to introducing an innovative closure for the bottled water market next year as well.
In addition, the new lines of proprietary closures and systems will include new dispensing systems for bulk soft drink syrups, such as those used in fast-food restaurants.
Erie Plastics already is a leading maker of push-pull tops for liquid detergents, closures and containers for deodorant sticks, pharmaceutical dispensing dial packs for birth control and other drugs, and spouts and injection molded threaded closures.
``We want to have about $100 million in annual sales in the next three to five years,'' Roche said. ``We have been upgrading and developing our research and development design and prototyping capabilities so that they can be rainmakers to bring in new customers.''
Erie Plastics was 94th in Plastics News' 1996 ranking of North American injection molders, with $46.1 million in sales.
To accommodate its expansion plans, Erie Plastics plans to move into a 433,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Corry later this year, and is opening a 77,000-square-foot satellite plant in Westborough, Mass., in July to serve New England-area customers, such as Gillette Co.
Cape Rankin, sales manager for Erie Plastics, said the company hopes to open southern and midwestern satellite plants and an advanced manufacturing laboratory at Corry, complete with a prototype tool shop, and upgraded mold and tool design capabilities. Roche said the company bought eight injection presses last year, and plans to add six to eight more in the new facility.
Gregg Montgomery, market development manager for foods, said the push in the proprietary stock lines will be on foods, and specifically on closures and dispensing systems for juices, waters, isotonic drinks and sports drinks.
``We probably have 10 projects in the works right now in the food area,'' he said. ``Of those, five are in the beverage area, and you might see some of them in the next 18-24 months.''