Ultra-Poly Corp. President Alan LaFiura got tired of fighting the state of New Jersey for competitive energy rates. So he is moving his company and employees to Pennsylvania, building a larger, more-efficient plant and doubling capacity at a cost close to $8 million.
``For five years, I've been talking with the Department of Commerce at the governor's office in Trenton to try to stay in New Jersey,'' LaFiura said in a telephone interview. ``We're taking jobs with us; other companies are going with us. In order to save money, we are moving and it will save us $1 million a year in electrical bills.''
In fact, he spent about $50,000 in consulting, engineering and legal fees to stay in New Jersey. The company had designed its own power plant, which would have cost about $3 million and paid for itself in about seven years.
New Jersey officials were not available to comment.
Ultra-Poly, a Hackettstown, N.J., post-industrial recycling firm, operates from two rented buildings with a total area of 63,000 square feet. The company grinds and extrudes clean low and high density polyethylene and polypropylene for companies that extrude flexible packaging.
In most cases, the company's customers have in-house recycling capabilities but send surplus capacity to Ultra-Poly.
``The business does the best job possible processing scrap for customers,'' LaFiura said. ``The turnaround is overnight. We do it for them fast and cost effectively. That's how we stay competitive — with the price of the service and the needed quality.''
With speed and cost competitiveness being crucial to Ultra-Poly, lower-cost electricity as well as a more-efficient plant will allow the company to maintain its market share, said LaFiura.
The company purchased 100 acres in Portland, Pa., only 15 miles from the current plant, and broke ground on a 153,000-square-foot facility. The area has the potential to evolve into an industrial park with eight to 10 other buildings. But for now, in the wilderness area, deer and bear are seen frequenting the property.
The $8 million investment involves purchasing the land, building the plant and adding equipment and a railroad siding with room for 25 cars. The site is also on Interstate 80. By adding a ``very large and very efficient'' line, capacity will increase to 70 million pounds per year, LaFiura added. He expects to be operating in the plant next summer.
The commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a rail freight assistance grant as well as Economic Development Assistance financing, something the state of New Jersey could not offer.
``What took us 10 months to do in Pennsylvania would have taken four years in New Jersey,'' said LaFiura. ``Speed and response are critical. It's a good tradeoff.''
LaFiura expects to halve the company's electric bill in the move. In light of Pennsylvania's recently passed legislation to allow customers to choose an electric company, the savings could be even greater.
Ultra-Poly, started in Newark, N.J., in 1974, claims to be the largest independent LDPE film processor in the industry. It employs about 50.