Heritage Plastics Central Inc. is expanding its business after kicking up production last year.
President Bill Raffaele disclosed the plan in a recent interview at the PVC conduit maker's headquarters plant in Weatherford.
The firm began operating during one of the worst years on record for PVC pipe producers, when several converters reported no margins in the face of declining resin prices. But Heritage continued adding machinery throughout the year at the Texas facility, reaching seven machines by the year's end. Officials recently added the eighth line.
``It was certainly a struggle,'' Raffaele said of starting last year. ``[But] we've done real well. We're growing really rapidly. We're only one of three companies that produce pipe and fittings.
``Our goal is to grow every year. That growth can be through another plant, through adding capacity at existing plants or new products.''
Heritage Plastics seeks to have a plant on the West Coast ``as soon as possible.''
``If you're going to be in business, you have to be in four places - the Northeast, the Southeast, Texas and the West Coast,'' he said. ``Texas is a necessary market.''
Heritage's competition comes from two firms owned by larger corporations.
Cantex Inc., headquartered 20 miles west in Mineral Wells, Texas, is a unit of Sumitomo Corp. Heritage's other competitor, Carlon, is a division of publicly held Lamson & Sessions Co., based in Beachwood, Ohio.
``We're not intimidated,'' Raffaele said of vying against two larger corporations. ``We respect them.'' Raffaele himself is a former Cantex executive.
Heritage Plastics Central is one of three related companies. Heritage Plastics of Carrollton, Ohio, is operated by Charlie McCort. In 1998, the firm acquired a facility in Tampa, Fla., from Colonial Plastics Manufacturing Co. That site became Heritage Plastics South Inc. and is headed by Mark Buck, a former Carlon vice president.
Each official is president of his own operation.
The Weatherford operation is the newest piece of the puzzle. The firm purchased the plant and four extruders in 2000 from Mastershield Building Products Co., which extruded vinyl siding there until 1999.
Raffaele said the 220,000-square-foot plant is large enough to store finished pipe indoors, which is unique in the pipe industry. The location also handles distribution in the West for fittings, which are injection molded in Carrollton.
Raffaele, who has spent more than 20 years in PVC pipe, would not disclose much, including how much he and his partners invested to get started in Texas or what they anticipate in sales.
``You've got to use everything you've got,'' he said. Success rests on a careful combination of low debt, low overhead and smart management.
``It's the only way you can do it,'' he said of surviving the rough-and-tumble PVC pipe market. ``You miss on any one of the three, any time, and you're dead meat.''
Converting the siding plant to pipe was easy because it already was equipped with a blender and grinders, he said.
``The difference is the downstream equipment,'' he said.