ONTARIO, CALIF. (Oct. 28, 9 a.m. EDT) — Classic Containers Inc. is contemplating a new product line, adding equipment and warehouse space and building on its family orientation.
The custom blow molder targets medium-size accounts and primarily manufactures bottles for personal-care products such as cosmetics and shampoo. About 80 percent of the output goes to the West Coast market.
Classic plans to expand into the market for PET bottles that openly display gel colors and textures.
“There is a need for that market on the West Coast,” Manny Hernandez Sr., president and owner, said in an interview in Ontario. “Our customers are buying bottles back East, and they need them here.”
Current around-the-clock obligations have delayed Classic from converting equipment to extrude PET. More equipment may be the answer, possibly including stretch blow molding machines.
This year, Classic invested about $1.7 million to add three Bekum dual-station, dual-head extrusion blow molding machines and three fully automatic, three-color, in-line screen-printing lines.
The firm is consolidating control of secondary operations, which have functioned as an independent business, Golden West Graphics Inc. Services include foil hot stamping, pressure-sensitive and heat-transfer labeling, closure assembly, liner insertion, shrink wrap and blister packaging.
The company plans to add warehouse space and may establish its own power-generating source.
While Classic has about 300 active customers, 10 clients account for about 40 percent of sales. Hernandez projects sales will exceed $15 million this year, up from $12.8 last year. The firm employs nearly 300 in a 100,000-square-foot facility.
Hernandez credits the company's success to being flexible with, and responsive to, customers and to building a team-operating environment. Worker benefits rate a priority, he said. After each fifth year of working for the company, an employee receives a paid three-week vacation and, including a guest, airfare to anywhere and hotel accommodations for a week.
Each employee receives a product — perhaps shampoo or nail polish — with every paycheck and, on the person's birthday, receives $1 for each year of age.
“The atmosphere there is positive,” said Karl Fuhlrott, principal with manufacturers' representative Blomo-Pack Concepts Inc. of Redondo Beach, Calif.
Family members help. The owner's father, Marcelo Hernandez, works on special projects. Manny's wife, Maria, deals with accounts payable. Sons Ernie and Manny Jr., respectively, are vice president and sales manager. His daughter Monica manages accounts receivable, and daughter Karina is a part-time receptionist while enrolled in college.
A busload of family members, employees and others traveled to the Oakland, Calif., area in support of Maria Hernandez, who ran with an Olympic torch Jan. 18 in the relay leading to the Salt Lake City winter games. Nominators cited her community, church and business roles.
A family atmosphere prevailed Sept. 30 when a company-organized party surprised Manny Sr. at a banquet hall on his 50th birthday.
Hernandez was born in Mendota, Calif., raised in Tijuana, Mexico, and initially gained blow molding experience with an Upland, Calif., firm beginning in early 1975. In 1988, while he worked elsewhere, his wife and two sons established Classic Graphix, brokering sales of letterhead stationery and silk-screen printing of plastic bottles.
Operations took place initially in the family's Upland garage but soon moved to a 7,000-square-foot site in Upland. The firm began building extrusion blow molds and, in 1991, bottles. Industry stalwart Rel James personally loaned Hernandez money to buy two Jomar injection blow molding machines.
Within a few years, the business, renamed Classic Containers, acquired more equipment, leased 20,000 square feet of space in Ontario and, in 1994, incorporated in California.
Hispanic Business magazine's June issue listed Classic Containers at 301 in its annual sales-based ranking of the 500 largest Hispanic-owned companies in the United States. The firm ranked at No. 353 last year.