COLUMBUS, OHIO — Crane Plastics Inc. turned 50 this year, but there is no sign the company is going through a midlife crisis.
In fact, the extruder of custom profiles and proprietary building products is experiencing a growth spurt with projects both at home and in Poland.
At home, Crane is adding 60,000 square feet to its Columbus facility for warehousing, freeing up room for three more Cincinnati Milacron CM92 extruders for Crane's TimberTech line of wood composite decking.
The Poland project involves starting operations at a new siding extrusion plant within ``a few weeks,'' Crane Chief Executive Officer Tanny Crane said. Crane owns 50 percent of the plant with local partners, including Warsaw, Poland-based Ocean Co. SA, and three individuals, holding the rest.
``Isn't it fitting that we celebrate the past as we build for the future,'' Crane Plastics Chairman and former CEO Jim Crane said Sept. 14 during an open house at its main Columbus plant.
About 1,200 suppliers, customers, employees government officials and community members attended the company's 50th birthday bash.
Crane licensed wood composite technology from Strandex Corp. of Madison, Wis. in 1994. Crane now runs five lines of its own proprietary TimberTech.
The move will allow the company to double fabrication space.
Tanny Crane declined to identify the location of the plant in Poland, but indicated more global growth is on the way as the company proceeds with its second five-year growth plan.
Some of the firm's technical know-how was on display during the open house. One of the TimberTech extrusion lines was producing deck planks from a proprietary polymer mix and sawdust.
Also running as part of the celebration was a blast from the past: a hoola hoop extrusion line. Polyethylene hoops helped revive the company's fortunes during a business lull 40 years ago. Crane Plastics was one of many firms pressed into service to produce the hoops at their pinnacle of popularity in the late 1950s.
In honor of its birthday, Crane Plastics' employees dusted off an old mold and produced hundreds of hoops during the open house.
Crane Plastics' root company was founded in Columbus in 1947 as Taylor Technical Co. by Robert S. Crane — grandfather of Tanny and her cousin Mike Crane, Jim's son — and others. Tanny and Mike Crane are the third generation of their family to take the reigns of the business.
Tanny's father, the late Bob Crane Jr., was president of the company from 1962 until becoming chairman in the 1970s. Jim Crane, Bob Jr.'s brother, then took over as president until handing the reigns to his niece, Tanny Crane, in 1996.
Crane Plastics also is clearing a path to Brazil, but what the path may lead to remains unclear.
The company recently created a new entity, Crane Plastics-Brazil Inc., under Ohio's incorporation laws. But so far, Crane has no concrete plans to announce.
``We're looking at the possibility'' of doing business in Brazil, explained Randy Fortner, a Crane vice president, adding that the company's plans are still in the ``very, very preliminary stages.''
``We incorporated a U.S. company that would serve as an investment vehicle for any further efforts in Brazil,'' Fortner said.
Crane Plastics employs more than 750 in two plants and one warehouse in Columbus. The company reported $128 million in sales in 1996, and predicts about $138 million in sales for 1997.
Crane Group, a holding company that controls Crane Plastics and a number of other ventures, reported sales close to $200 million in 1996.