One of the oldest plants owned by film producer Pechiney Plastic Packaging Inc. will undergo a $17 million face lift to bring in state-of-the-art printing equipment.
Construction will begin in November on the flexible packaging plant in Menasha, Wis., to renovate one of its two buildings that will house four new flexographic printing presses and support equipment by the end of next year, said Mark Kitzis, plant manager of Menasha operations.
The printing and converting facility prepares film for such markets as meat, dairy and other food items, and health-care and specialty products, Kitzis said. The plant works with a variety of substrate materials, including polyethylene, nylon and oriented polypropylene.
The building that will house the new equipment has a history dating to 1904, Kitzis said. The 225,000-square-foot facility, across a river from Pechiney's other Menasha facility, was a Fort James Corp. paper plant before Pechiney purchased it two years ago, Kitzis said. The building largely has sat idle, housing maintenance supplies, he said.
The main, 296,000-square-foot Menasha plant has been operating since 1939 under a variety of owners. The site uses both flexographic and rotogravure presses to print on film.
The company will raze portions of the little-used building, leaving a newer section that had been a Fort James warehouse. The city of Menasha approved a $1.2 million assistance package Aug. 27 to help with demolition, debris removal and road construction costs, Kitzis said.
Pechiney will modernize the facility and boost efficiency, said spokesman Mark Lindley of Chicago-based Pechiney, the North American unit of Paris-based plastics and aluminum packager Pechiney Group.
The new presses offer greater color choices and decks, giving the company more capacity to support its growth in film, Kitzis said. Pechiney also operates a nearby blown film facility in Neenah, Wis.
``We're seeing the need to support ongoing business growth,'' Kitzis said. ``This isn't just about recapitalizing an old plant. It's about growth in business on the flexible end.''
Employment in Menasha, now at 275, will not be affected by the expansion, Lindley said. Existing employees will be trained on the new machines.
Pechiney ranked seventh on Plastics News' list of film and sheet makers, with an estimated $803 million in North American sales last year.