CRANFORD, N.J. — Federal Plastics expects to show a profit in 1999, just like it did in 1998 and each of the 38 years before that.
As the Cranford-based distributor and compounder prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary, it remains independent and competitive.
``We've never posted a loss, and we're out of debt,'' Federal owner Peter Triano said in a recent interview in Cranford. ``And we own all of our assets.''
Those assets include a 146,000-square-foot plant the company has occupied since moving from Elizabeth, N.J., in 1978. Federal distributes about 30 million pounds of material each year, about three-quarters of which are commodity materials such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene.
About 60 percent of its distributed resin is prime, while 30 percent is wide-spec and the final 10 percent is regrind.
In compounding, Federal operates nine single-crew extruders, producing compounds based on PE, PP, PS, ABS, nylon and polycarbonate. Later this year, the firm plans to introduce a pearlized PC compound aimed at consumer electronics applications such as pagers and cell phones.
Federal distributes throughout New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, as well as in parts of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Its compound sales range as far west as Chicago and as far south as the Carolinas.
Although Federal has benefited from the high concentration of injection molders in New Jersey, the firm has had to adapt to keep its edge, according to Michael Triano, Peter's son, who serves as Federal's vice president.
Federal is a family affair, as Peter Triano's son, also named Peter, serves as the company's general manager.
``Now there's more of an emphasis on quicker shipments,'' Michael Triano said. ``Customers don't want to carry a lot of inventory.''
``We compete with everyone, from the majors like General Polymers and M.A. Hanna, to companies that are run out of someone's house,'' he added. ``In our area, we've been pretty good at doing what we can do. Accounts grow; new people come in.''
Federal also has resisted several offers to sell out to a larger firm or to partner with other regional distributors.
``We always want to know what's going to happen after the deal,'' Peter Triano said. ``The whole story is where is the company going to go. A lot of companies can't answer that question.''
``Other companies like us have been in the same situation and I told them all not to sell,'' he added. ``I don't know any more than they do, but all the ones that sold have been sorry they did.''