For National Pipe & Plastics Inc., it's time for a few changes.
The Vestal, N.Y., PVC pipe extruder has been in a rented facility in its headquarters town since 1970. But officials say it's time to shed the 165,000-square-foot location and prepare for the future by moving five miles away to a site in Endicott, N.Y.
``The new building will give us the opportunity to update equipment and improve productivity and efficiency,'' said David Culbertson, newly appointed president and chief executive officer. ``Now we'll be able to expand production.''
The $13 million project began last year. Since then, National has worked to prepare the site and install equipment in the 235,000-square-foot plant, formerly owned by Endicott Johnson Corp. National will move all 16 extrusion lines from Vestal, and will add 45 employees over three years to a current base of 360.
National received incentives from the state of New York for training and expansion, including a $500,000 capital grant from the Empire State Development Corp.
Culbertson, who has been with the company for six years, replaced J. Allan McLean at the end of March. McLean had served in that role since 1993.
Culbertson discussed how he plans to steer the business, especially in the current business environment.
``Raw material prices are rising in an economy that is still not fully recovered,'' Culbertson said in an April 29 telephone interview. ``But demand has to be strong in order to absorb the price increases that we are experiencing. All businesses are going to need to maximize efficiencies and stay as lean as possible in order to work through this economic environment. And National Pipe is prepared to do that.''
Culbertson said he would like to see National grow through building relationships with customers and suppliers, rather than develop more real estate.
National Pipe also operates facilities in Greensboro, N.C., and Thomasville, Ga. It reported $135 million in 2002 extrusion sales with 37 lines.
``With those three plants, we have adequate capacity to supply plumbing, electrical, water and sewer in one-half-inch to 24-inch sizes,'' he said. ``We have the sizes and the markets. We have representation in every area of the United States east of the Mississippi.''
National acquired injection molding equipment in 2000, which it integrated into the New York site. Culbertson said that move provided National with enough capacity, so it won't be necessary to add more machinery.
``We expect this year to be better than each of the last two years. 2003 will not be one of the best years we have seen, but it will be an improvement. Evidence of a recession still lingers, but we expect to see continued improvements into 2004,'' he said.