Packaging provider Fruth Custom Plastics of Placentia, Calif., has experienced wrenching adjustments in end markets and has adapted with additional offerings.
``At the peak of 2000, we were up to 90 employees,'' President James Fruth said. ``We [went] down to 35, and we are back to 90.
``We have been forced in the last year and a half of steady decline in electronics, aerospace and some military to move into pharmaceuticals, medical, clean-room packaging, clean-room films and specialty films such as vapor-corrosion-inhibiting and black conductive for the military explosives market,'' he said.
Firms in those growth markets are ``the only manufacturers able to survive and stop the onslaught'' of Chinese imports.
Fruth broadened his geographic focus.
``We have forced ourselves to go nationwide for customers rather than stay with the West Coast-Phoenix-Denver market.
He said he sees some economic daylight in the third quarter. ``Those of us who are standing are going to be here. ... Many people have retrenched from being a dot-com and plastics extruder to pumping gas. It's just startling.''
The firm operates five extruders with a diameter range of 3-66 inches and has in-house printing and converting capabilities.