Universal Plastics Corp. plans to move its thermoforming operations from an old mill building in Chicopee to a more modern, 62,000-square-foot building a few miles away in Holyoke.
``This gives us the ability to move into the future - part of our future is in bigger, pressure formed parts that we can't currently accommodate,'' said President Joseph Peters.
Universal Plastics has inked an agreement to acquire a former Kodak plant in Holyoke for an undisclosed price, and Peters expects to begin the move in October.
Peters' father, James R. Peters Sr., started Universal Plastics 36 years ago to do fabrication and materials handling. It moved into its current home 24 years ago and occupies 120,000 square feet of space over two floors, as well as a rented, 6,000-square-foot facility in Holyoke.
``Inline thermoforming doesn't work well on the third floor, and we can't run at capacity because it shakes the floor too much,'' said Joseph Peters, who also is chairman of the Society of Plastics Engineers' Thermoforming Division.
The new building will be more efficient, as it offers ground-floor manufacturing and 20-foot ceilings. Peters said manufacturing will be consolidated in the Holyoke building, but some assembly work will continue in Chicopee. Universal Plastics remains a family-owned operation, with annual sales of about $10 million, according to Peters.
He said the company had been growing about 15 percent a year during the past four years, but sales are flat this year and he expects the same in 2003.
Universal Plastics does heavy- and thin-gauge thermoforming. The company has made a variety of items, including two-tone kayaks, stop signs made from recycled plastic for New York, shielded electronic housings, retail displays, submarine parts and jet engine covers.
Universal Plastics also has a toolroom and computer-assisted-design capabilities.
``Our specialty is complex parts with a lot of assembly. We can bring a lot to the table,'' said Peters, noting that the company does assembly, packaging and other value-added features.