Container producer Ball Corp. will close one recently acquired Iowa plant and expand another in a drive to shift manufacturing to its biggest sites.
Broomfield, Colo.-based Ball also plans to add PET blow molding lines this year to plants in Baldwinsville, N.Y., and Delran, N.J., said spokesman Scott McCarty.
The company, a maker of both plastic and metal containers, wants to move production to its most-spacious facilities to gain volume and efficiency, McCarty said. The company is making similar moves with its metal-can business, he said.
``It's very difficult to be as competitive with small plants,'' he said. ``The way to win in this business is to operate with larger facilities than can produce lots of volume vs. running lots of little spaces at smaller plants.''
The company will shutter a 100,000-square-foot PET blow molding plant in Sioux City, Iowa, by the end of the year and shift production to its facility in Ames, Iowa. The Ames plant, with more than 800,000 square feet in manufacturing and warehouse space, is Ball's largest.
As previously reported, Ball is adding two PET bottle lines in Ames. When the installation is completed this month, the plant will have more than 10 bottle lines for carbonated soft drinks and water bottles. The market for those products, especially bottled water, has exploded in the past several years, McCarty said.
``Plastics is growing steadily - faster than our metal business,'' he said. ``Everything we can make, we are selling.''
A report from the Iowa Department of Economic Development said Ball is investing about $25 million in the Ames plant. Ball officials did not confirm the figure but said the cost to add more capacity alone is more than $9 million.
Ball bought the Sioux City site in January, one of two PET blow molding plants purchased from Pepsi bottler Wis-Pak Inc. of Watertown, Wis. The second plant remains open in Watertown.
About 75 workers in Sioux City have been affected by the closure and will be given a chance to move to other Ball plants, McCarty said. Publicly held Ball expects to record about $850,000 in after-tax costs associated with the closing.
Ball's capital expenditures in 2002 increased by $160 million, a little more than half of which went to expand its metal-can operations, McCarty said. The company recorded $292.7 million in 2001 sales from its plastic container operations in North America, according to a recent annual report.