Perhaps sometime in this century, the words "stretch film" may be added to "land under the starry skies above" — words that are praised in the state of Oklahoma. Even though the state is a relative newcomer to the world of plastics, and a good distance from the top three plastics states of California, Ohio and Illinois, Oklahoma's Department of Commerce claims U.S. stretch film production was born in and continues to grow in the Sooner State.
"It's pretty hard to compete once those critical masses have started to build up in other states, but we're trying," said Alan Leech, the state's Commerce Department spokesman.
Leech admits Oklahoma doesn't have the plastics history that the big three above have, but the state can claim a bit of history in stretch film production.
One of Oklahoma's pioneer stretch film corporations, Paragon Films Inc. in Broken Arrow, began as Linear Films Inc. in the late 1970s, according to a release published by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Following Linear Films were other major producers, Armin Plastics (now Tyco Plastics) of Pryor Creek and Tulsa, Atlantis Plastics of Sapulpa and Tulsa, and Sigma Stretch Corp. of Tulsa.
All four have manufacturing operations in northeast Oklahoma, producing an estimated total of 220 pounds of stretch film a year.
According to recent statistics provided by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. in Washington, Oklahoma's stretch film production yields about $411 million in sales annually. Despite the concentration of major players, that's still a minor contribution compared to the $15 billion nationwide total, said Lori Anderson, from SPI's committee on equipment statistics.
Anderson said out of approximately 820 stretch film facilities in the United States, 13 are in Oklahoma. But the bulk of them — 103 — are located in California, according to an SPI 1996 economic study.
Leech, however, said northeast Oklahoma's access to major interstates and railways make it a desirable manufacturing location, which he hopes will attract other plastics companies in the future, adding to its higher-profile agricultural, aviation and metal fabrication industries.
"Without sounding like a sales person, we have a very low cost of doing business here," Leech said from his Oklahoma City office. "Land is inexpensive here, building costs are low, we have great lifestyle — our cost of living is very low.
"We must be doing something right."