After 15 years in the thermoforming business, Jason Gass feels that it is time to be his own boss.
That is why he started I&J Packaging LLC in July. The Oneco, Conn., business currently is operating with one fully automatic Sencorp 2500 production line, and Gass said he plans to add two lines within six months, along with a cut-sheet line for heavy-gauge runs. He has two employees and expects to add two or three by the end of the year.
``I will be a low-cost producer,'' he said in a telephone interview.
I&J Packaging operates out of a leased facility with 5,700 square feet of manufacturing space and 2,000 square feet of storage. The company is focusing on commercial, industrial, medical, food and electronic packaging markets. Tote trays, blisters, clamshells and point-of-purchase displays are some of the products it will produce.
Gass said he has spent 15 years learning the business. He was manager of the thermoforming business unit for three years at UFP Technologies Inc. of Raritan, N.J. Before that, he spent five years as technical/plant manager at Alga Plastics in Cranston, R.I.
He said the decision to open a business was based on the belief that a low-cost operation could work under the current economic conditions.
Gass, an African-American, said he is not just seeking minority business, but rather all business.
Gass currently has three active customers, and he is ahead of projected first-year sales of $600,000.
Richard Cheney, regional director of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, part of the Small Business Administration, pointed to Gass as a model for others to follow.
``He's a quick learner, very focused,'' said Cheney, who noted that the business planning took about two years.
``He is going to be a success story. He went out and got letters of intent from many customers [to get loans]. The amount exceeded his first-year expectations,'' he added.
The SBA and Northeast Connecticut Economic Alliance helped Gass get started.
He said his plans include injection molding and contract packaging with radio-frequency sealing.