LEOMINSTER, MASS. - Michael A. Carota says Performance Polymers merely got caught up in the evolution of the plastics industry. That is how he explains the company's growth from a mere idea in 1988 to $180 million in sales today.
Carota is president of Performance Polymers, a company that today claims to be the fourth-largest distributor of thermoplastic resins in North America.
Performance Polymers sold 31 million pounds of resins in 1989 from its original location in Leominster. The company expects to sell 420 million pounds of resins this year from that facility and 12 regional locations. The company has 27 sales representatives and represents 14 producers of commodity and engineering thermoplastics.
It deals in injection molding and extrusion grades of a variety of volume thermoplastics, including polyolefins, styrenics and PVC resins, and engineering thermoplastics, such as nylons, acetal, acrylic, polycarbonate and polyester resins. It supplies customers in the automotive, consumer products, appliance, packaging and other industries.
As for getting caught up in evolution, Carota said Performance Polymers was a better-than-average idea launched just as resin suppliers were changing their views about distributors.
``Producers are looking at distributors today as partners in their businesses. They have found it is easier to sell 1.5 million pounds of resin to one company than to sell 150,000 pounds of resin to 10 companies,'' he said.
``If you look at the history of distribution, you would see that distributors contributed 3-4 percent of all resin sales in 1991, and today distributors contribute 15 percent of all resin sales.
``By 1997, it has been estimated that distributors will contribute 30 percent of all resins sales. Our growth has been driven by the evolution of this industry,'' Carota said.
He and his partners maintain a high degree of communication between their company and its suppliers and customers.
The partners - Carota, Donald Churchman, James Duffy, Arthur Millette and Eugene Rall - worked for Plastic Distributing Corp., a resin distributor that was purchased by M.A. Hanna Co. in 1992.
They raised $600,000 in equity to launch the company six months after creating a business plan. A sixth original partner was bought out several months ago, and a venture capital fund - Pioneer Capital of Boston - was brought in as an investor, he said.
Carota said his company's sales got a 30 percent boost in 1994 when it acquired Baeco Inc., a resin distributor in Chicago. The buy also strengthened the firm's position in the Midwest. Otherwise, he noted, growth has been achieved through internal efforts.
With sales expected to reach $180 million in 1996, Carota said he and his partners are easing their grip on company reins, and are bringing in new executives.
Carota expects Performance Polymers to have sales of $300 million within the next three years, as it expands in the Midwest and on the West Coast. The firm is expanding technical and laboratory services, which resin suppliers are stepping away from.