A Simi Valley, Calif., plastics processor is recovering from the 1994 Northridge earthquake with some recent government help.
It was ``difficult to grow at the same time as still trying to come back from the earthquake,'' said Anna Baer, vice president in charge of production, purchasing and marketing at Gemstone Equipment Manufacturing Co. Inc.
The earthquake damaged resin stock, unsettled equipment placements and reduced orders from nearby customers that had their own problems.
In early May, Ventura County used federal Economic Development Administration disaster relief funding to provide a 10-year, $187,000 loan to Gemstone, and the city of Simi Valley loaned another $13,000. First Western Bank of Simi Valley had supplied a 60-day, $100,000 bridge loan in March.
The loans helped Gemstone refinance past debt at a lower interest rate, update systems for Y2K and create better cash flow.
The firm operates five injection molding machines of 170-500 tons, one rotational molding unit with a 7-foot oven and a vacuum forming press. The company has a 13,000-square-foot facility.
Gemstone concentrates on product development. The firm employs 25, up from 15 in January. Baer's father, William Baer, founded Gemstone in 1975.
Product-development equipment includes two computer numerically controlled machining centers and an electric discharge machine.
The company has a division, Gemstone Environmental, that manufactures welded-steel pollution-abating equipment in a 3,000-square-foot facility in nearby Moorpark. Gemstone uses recycled glass-filled polypropylene to mold replacement-market filter plates that fit the division's equipment.
Other production includes recycled ABS fishing lures, and various parts for Scope City, a Simi Valley-based chain store that specializes in optical products such as binoculars and telescopes.
Recycled materials account for about 80 percent of the resins consumed at Gemstone.
``We are set up to develop ideas into products for recycled material, and develop customers like cities that mandate the use of these products,'' William Baer said in a telephone interview.
Anna Baer said Gemstone had 1998 sales of $1.5 million and expects to exceed $2 million this year.