Sol Algranti couldn't find the right polyethylene for his company's rotational molded lawn and garden products, so he started a new compounding company to satisfy his demand.
Algranti, president and chief executive officer of Shirlon Plastics Co. Inc., officially has started Polyworks, a compounding operation in Dundas, Ontario, to develop natural-appearing materials for rotomolding. Now, his company can develop material that looks like marble.
``We couldn't get that kind of a rich look in the marketplace,'' he said in an Aug. 12 interview at the National Hardware Show in Chicago. ``Basically, the goal or objective is to have plastic products that don't look like plastic. We're doing it out of necessity. We still buy the material from multiple sources; we're not producing the polyethylene. We still get colors from other compounders.''
Algranti would not disclose how much the unit compounds, but he said 60 percent of it is used captively. He operates his lawn and garden division as Algreen Products, which has experienced significant growth over the past year.
Shirlon has 90,000 square feet of plant space in Dundas and at its headquarters in Cambridge, Ontario. Algranti is gathering quotes to add 35,000 square feet in Cambridge. The expansion will accommodate the industrial side of the business, which serves mass-transit, appliance and military customers. Algranti would not disclose the investment to expand.
``Because lawn and garden grew so much, it took a lot of existing capacity away from industrial products,'' he said. ``After Sept. 11, we had flat sales. We thought that business was going to drop dramatically, but it went in such a way that not only did we recover what we lost in September, October and November, [but] December was our best month. Since December, we've been nonstop.''
The additional space will accommodate two rotomolding machines. The expansion should be complete within the next four months.
Algranti attributes the division's growth to Shirlon's focus on research and development and an intense product allotment program.
``We have more than average research and development investment. But we also react to what the customers want and we see that the market is going upscale right now. So they are demanding products that will give them pleasure: That's what lawn and garden is all about. People spend eight hours digging a hole [for a pond] and they wouldn't mind paying $25-$30 more to have a product that is more attractive, which becomes part of the environment they enjoy.''
Following an overall trend in rotomolded toys during the past year, sales growth slowed in Shirlon's Weeplay toy division, which the firm started in 1999.
``So we're leaving it the way it is and putting more emphasis in lawn and garden and other products as well,'' he said.
In Plastics News' most recent ranking, Shirlon reported $3.9 million in rotomolding sales for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2001. The firm currently employs 35 and has seven machines.