ST. BONIFACIUS, MINN. — Norwesco Inc. is sticking to its build-or-buy-a-plant-every-year strategy.
This year, plans are for a facility in central California, somewhere between Fresno and Sacramento. Norwesco plans to invest about $2.5 million to build a 25,000-square-foot plant. It will have two machines and 15-20 employees. Completion is set for the second quarter of 1999.
After that, Norwesco plans to move into Indiana, probably near the Kentucky/Illinois border, and then to Alberta, Canada.
Why so many locations?
``Open up any telephone book and you'll probably find two or three precast concrete septic tank makers in every town. That's [because] shipping is such a factor,'' said Rick Aronson, Norwesco's vice president of sales.
``Less than 400 miles is good,'' he said in an interview at the firm's St. Bonifacius plant. Shipping costs are about $1,000 a truckload. Norwesco's cistern and septic tanks hold from 300-1,500 gallons, and Aronson expects to ship more than 30,000 of them this year. He added that he believes Norwesco is the only national septic tank producer.
Norwesco builds its own rotomolding equipment and assembles it at the production site, said Thomas Smith, the company's president and chief executive officer.
``The size of the equipment we build, a 5,000 gallon to 12,000 gallon tank, is not readily available in the industry, so we had to build our own equipment,'' Smith said.
Norwesco's nine plants house 24 rotomolding machines and employ 140. Norwesco has one plant each in St. Bonifacius; Lancaster, Ohio; Griffin, Ga.; Shawnee, Okla.; Tooele, Utah; Owego, N.Y.; Washougal, Wash.; Sheldon, Iowa; and Winkler, Manitoba.
Last year, Norwesco built its 14,000-square-foot plant in Washougal to house the business it purchased in 1995 from Rototech Industries of Coos Bay, Ore. The deal did not include Rototech's building. The Washougal plant has one rotomolding machine and 12 employees. Norwesco bought Rototech's machinery, name and product line.
Norwesco is North America's leading manufacturer of proprietary rotomolded polyethylene tanks for agricultural, water, closed-top industrial and below-ground septic and cistern applications, according to a company brochure. Tank sizes and shapes abound: 35-12,000 gallons, in elliptical, conical, circular, square and other shapes.
This year, Norwesco holds seventh place in Plastics News' ranking of North American rotational molders, with sales of $43 million.
Investment company Trivest Inc. of Miami owns the majority of the company; Norwesco management owns the rest.