Plastics housewares maker Sterilite Corp. is building a $65 million injection molding plant and distribution center in Clinton, S.C., that eventually will create 600 jobs.
The facility, which is set to open in mid-2004, will be the sixth for Townsend, Mass.-based Sterilite. The company, which bills itself as the world's largest independent producer of plastic products for the home, already operates plants in Townsend; Birmingham, Ala.; Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; Massillon, Ohio; and Ennis, Texas.
In a Nov. 18 news release, Sterilite Chairman Albert Stone said the decision to build in Clinton was ``the culmination of a thorough search of the southeast region.''
``We look at a lot of different things when choosing a site,'' marketing Vice President Richard Ahern said by phone Nov. 18. ``Like good distribution routes, where retailers' needs are, where there's good infrastructure and a good labor market. You look at all those things and that determines where you end up.''
Ahern said the new plant will produce the full range of Sterilite products. The firm's product mix includes pitchers, tumblers, laundry baskets, trash cans, tote boxes and storage drawers. The plant is important to Sterilite's overall growth strategy, as well as to the Clinton area. Clinton is in Laurens County, which has an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent, according to a local news report. The area has been hit by textile industry job losses.
``We found a community and a populace ready to wholeheartedly support our plans, our goals and our personnel needs, including a broad range of skills,'' Stone said in the release.
``We'd like to promote the fact that this is an example of a U.S. company growing on U.S. soil,'' Ahern added.
Initially, the plant will employ 200 and grow to 600 in the next few years, officials said in the release.
The Clinton plant will be Sterilite's first new site since 1999. The firm added a 161,000-square-foot distribution warehouse in Birmingham in 1999 and added almost 430,000 square feet of manufacturing space in Massillon in 2000.
Sterilite introduced 35 products in the past year, including:
* Countertop drawers equipped with nonskid rubber feet.
* Under-bed storage boxes with latches and hinged lids to hold jumbo-sized wrapping paper rolls.
* Four-drawer chests designed to hold heavy-duty items in laundry and utility rooms or garages.
* Large, 54-quart kitchen wastebaskets with hooded tops for extra holding capacity.
* Two-bushel HipHold-brand laundry baskets, ergonomically designed to fit the body.
Consumers bought more Sterilite Storage items in 2002 than from all other manufacturers combined, according to an A.C. Nielsen report Sterilite cited. Sales of Sterilite Storage products totaled more than 200 million items in 2002, according to the report.
Privately held Sterilite does not release annual sales or employee totals. The firm was founded in 1939 by Saul and Edward Stone and Earl Tupper, who formed Tupperware Corp. Sterilite now is wholly owned by the Stone family.