Undaunted injection molder Bruce Hale, 64, is starting over. On Dec. 9, a fire destroyed his Newport Plastics Inc. plant, 18 injection molding presses and machines for making molds and performing decorating and assembly operations. A portion of the office remained at the Costa Mesa, Calif., site.
"We are going to rebuild over five to six months," Hale said in a telephone interview.
Within days, Hale had molding shops making parts with some minimally damaged molds. Hale will open a molding site in temporary quarters in January.
Equipment losses included Van Dorn, HPM, Kawaguchi, Newbury and Niigata presses of 35-250 tons; four Bridgeport milling machines; and three surface grinders. Hale estimated the facility and equipment losses at $3 million.
After an extensive probe, a joint task force concluded the fire was accidental in nature and electrical in origin, Henry Santo, Costa Mesa senior arson investigator, said Dec. 20.
Hale expects to keep the molding business in Orange County.
"We will try to find something larger," he said. "I want to get into 20,000 square feet," supplanting both the 8,000-square-foot plant and a leased, 6,000-square-foot warehouse.
Hale intends to rebuild and lease the existing location. The land, near John Wayne-Orange County Airport, is worth about $1 million, he said.
Meanwhile, Hale, Newport Plastics' sole owner, said he will pay his 45 employees during the rebuilding process.
The loss of his dog Cheetos was "the sad part," he said. The 8-year-old female, a combination Australian sheep dog and hound dog, lived at the plant and died in the fire.
Hale started the business in 1968, incorporated in 1970 and moved into the Costa Mesa facility in 1975. Newport Plastics had sales of $3.2 million for the fiscal year ended April 30.