AURORA, ILL.—Sales at North American Plastics Corp. have tripled in the past four years, a notable rate of growth for any company, but particularly so for a private-label trash bag maker.
To support such industry, the manufacturer has increased capacity more than 50 percent in a $14 million expansion program at its Aurora facility, and is considering whether to acquire the assets of another firm or build a plant.
North American, which in August signed a multiyear agreement with Rubbermaid Inc. of Wooster, Ohio, to make the latter's Roughneck trash bags, has added 13 Battenfeld blown film systems in the past nine months. Seven lines are dedicated to the Rubbermaid product.
Each of the new, 80-millimeter, grooved-feed-throat extruders supplies film to bag-making equipment and CMD winders, and features a rail-mounted corona-discharge treater from Corotec for a downstream label-printing operation. The resin-handling system was supplied by AEC HydReclaim.
``We wanted to manufacture trash bags at the highest speed possible,'' said Harold Engh III, vice chairman and chief operating officer.
The new lines, he noted, allow for film production rates that can keep up with downstream machinery running at
500 feet per minute. The plant runs two 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. The large-diameter extruders are housed in an 18,000-square-foot addition at North American, where operations occupy a total of 180,000 square feet.
``We're probably as big as we can get at this facility,'' said Engh, who co-owns the business with Gary Kerlagon, president and chief executive officer.
The two men purchased the firm from Engh's father, Harold Jr., in January 1993. Given the growth, the younger Engh said the firm either will construct a plant or acquire another firm's assets. Engh said he leans toward the latter, but is keeping his options open.
North American, founded 30 years ago in Schaumburg, Ill., employs 250.
Its expansion was financed through the issuance of state industrial revenue bonds and the company qualified for job training incentives for new employees.
Among film and sheet manufacturers in North America, the privately held corporation ranked 56th, according to Plastics News' 1996 ``Market Data Book,'' with annual sales of $88 million.
North American's sales growth is particularly notable, as private-label trash bag manufacturers have a tough time competing with major suppliers like Tenneco Inc. and First Brands Corp., and have had to deal with competition from newcomers like Inteplast Corp.