CHICOPEE, MASS. — Engineered Polymers Industries celebrated its 10th anniversary by dedicating its newly opened 80,000-square-foot compounding and distribution plant in Chicopee on Sept. 15.
``It is very gratifying to me to see the new factory operating,'' said Russell C. Osterman, chief executive officer of EPI's parent company, Osterman & Co., which is based in Barrington, Ill. ``We started the business 10 years ago in rented space with a rented extruder.''
Osterman & Co. invested more than $4 million to help EPI purchase the 8-acre site, add on to an existing structure and turn it into a state-of-the-art facility.
Engineered Polymers Industries produces a wide range of compounds for use in injection molding and extrusion processes used to manufacture consumer products, such as business machines, power tools and lawn and garden equipment.
``We concentrate on higher value-added engineering resins and compounds,'' said Paul Dikan, EPI plant manager, ``Specifically polycarbonate, flame-retardant PC, PC/ABS alloys and flame-retardant PC/ ABS.''
He said that new flame-retardant products ``should significantly boost sales.''
Dikan said EPI has hired seven new employees, pushing its total to 40. The company plans to create 10 new jobs within the next five years. He said that the company is running three shifts a day, five days a week and expects to be operating seven days a week by the end of the year.
``We've been sustaining a 20 percent growth rate the last few years, so we've esentially doubled in the last five years,'' said Dikan, who noted that plan for the next five years is to double again.
This year, EPI expects sales of approximately $20 million.
Osterman was particularly proud of the EPI's new laboratory.
``Our lab is a crucial part of the factory. We test everything over and over. Quality is critical,'' he said.
Osterman also took time to credit W. Allan Brown, EPI's first employee.
Brown is a 29-year veteran at the former Monsanto Chemical Co. plant in Springfield, Mass. After retiring from Monsanto, Brown joined Engineered Polymers Industries at the West Springfield facility.
Brown, who is now a consultant to EPI, helped in 1993 to recruit Dikan, who had worked as a process lab manager at Monsanto.
Dikan said the move to Chicopee took three years to plan. The clinching factor was Airpark West's designation as an Economic Opportunity Area. That entitled the company to a 5 percent investment tax credit, as well as property tax relief.
Local officials also helped by relocating a railroad spur to serve the plant.
Osterman said that if growth continues, a second plant may be in the works in the next few years, probably in the Midwest.
Engineered Polymers Industries is one of four divisions of Osterman & Co. The others are Osterman Trading, which markets commodity wide-specification plastic raw material; Prime Polymers Services, which distributes prime polystyrene, polypropylene and polyethylene resins; and International Polymer Services, which markets a full line of resins abroad.