Containers Northwest Corp., a major PET bottle and preform manufacturer in Tumwater, Wash., plans to open a fourth West Coast production facility. The firm is locating the 164,000-square-foot plant in the Los Angeles area near Montebello, Calif., and initially will dedicate it to blow molding PET containers for the carbonated soft drink and bottled water industries.
The plant, which will be called CNC Containers Corp. Southern California, should be in operation by the middle of next year.
The PET bottle market has been in transition in recent years, and California offers a good case study. Longtime market leader Johnson Controls Inc. closed a bottle plant in City of Industry, Calif., a year ago, citing oversupply. But in the meantime, newer players like Muncie, Ind.-based Ball Corp. and Containers Northwest aggressively have added capacity in California and elsewhere, and have grabbed market share.
Dean Hebb, vice president of sales and marketing of Containers Northwest, said the 41/2-year-old company's fast growth rate reflects its ability to take advantage of windows of opportunity.
``We have anchor customers that are responsible for the growth,'' Hebb said. ``The whole industry seems to be changing with new opportunities coming into view constantly.''
He also attributes the firm's growth to its response to customers' just-in-time requirements by locating manufacturing plants within a few hours of bottling plants.
Hebb said the company initially will employ 40, and eventually expand its product lines beyond soft drink and water bottles.
On Nov. 1, the company began blow molding in Tucson, Ariz., at its new facility called Containers Southwest, a joint venture with Lane Sales Co., a Pepsi bottler in Tucson. The Southern California plant will begin operating within a week or two of the new facility in Lathrop, Calif., which will serve customers in Northern California, northern Nevada and Oregon.
The company also is adding 100,000 square feet to the facility in Tumwater, primarily for warehouse space, expanding that plant to a total of 350,000 square feet. It expects to complete that expansion by May.
The company reported annual sales of $60 million in blow molding and $20 million in injection molding of preforms for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.