Polytop undertakes $2 million expansion
SLATERSVILLE, R.I. - Closures maker Polytop Corp. is starting an expansion aimed at increasing production and modernizing its operation with lean manufacturing cells.
The company, based in Slatersville plans to spend more than $2 million later this year to add 16,000 square feet and one manufacturing cell to its site, Chief Executive Officer William Masser said Feb. 12. The cell will include a Husky injection press, robotics and automated materials-handling equipment.
The expansion was needed to open more room at the 225,000-square-foot plant and provide space for automated production, Masser said. The company has brought sophisticated manufacturing cells to other areas of its plant and currently is training employees in robotics and visioning systems, he said.
The space will be used for custom closure production, Masser said. The company has a new three-year contract to provide dispensing systems for Hershey Foods Corp. and is working on several other contracts, Masser said.
If those contracts are set, the company could add as many as seven more manufacturing cells to the expanded site and spend an additional $5 million, Masser said. The firm expects that second-stage expansion to start within the next three years, he added.
``We have a slew of new projects on our plate,'' Masser said. `There are enough opportunities that look like they could come to fruition that we needed the extra space to do it.''
The company currently has about 70 injection presses and considers itself the largest injection molder in Rhode Island. Polytop will add 20-25 employees when the expansion is complete, bringing the total to about 275.
Genmar spinning off
MINNEAPOLIS - Boat builder and technology developer Genmar Holdings Inc. is spinning off its engineered composites subsidiary into a stand-alone company, VEC Technology LLC.
Interplastic Corp. of St. Paul, Minn., is Genmar's initial partner and investor in the new company. Interplastic will supply all of VEC's resin and will distribute most of VEC's composite products.
Greenville, Pa.-based VEC employs 70 and aims to put centers around the country to encourage start-up projects, probably addressing needs of large manufacturers, Genmar Chairman Irwin Jacobs said in a telephone interview.
Minneapolis-based Genmar said it will announce more partners in 60-90 days as it looks to expand its technology to applications far beyond the boating industry.
``The additional capital infusion associated with this transaction will enable VEC LLC to focus on its huge global business opportunities, as well as enable Genmar to concentrate on its marine business,'' Jacobs said.
The split was effective Feb. 10. VEC has a value of about $350 million, according to Genmar.
PGM wrapping up
expansion for Lego
FITCHBURG, MASS. - PGM Plastics Inc. is finishing a $3.5 million project designed to double its business and help a toy maker start a new project.
The Fitchburg custom injection molder gutted and rebuilt a 30,000-square-foot building next to its existing facility to create a dedicated manufacturing cell for Lego Systems Inc. The project was started in May and should be in full production this month, according to PGM President Paul Muzyka.
He said in a telephone interview that the new building now houses 10 all-electric Milacron Roboshot injection presses, ranging from 165-330 tons of clamping force. The automated facility includes a conveyer system designed by Advanced Poly-Packaging Inc. of Akron, Ohio. Muzyka expects to add 30 workers, boosting the company's total to 75.
PGM's existing 52,000-square-foot facility has 16 machines ranging from 80-1,000 tons. Muzyka said the company, which was founded in 1996, makes consumer and industrial products ranging from filter spacers to housewares.
The private company does not release sales figures, but Muzyka said sales were up 18 percent in 2003 and he hopes to double sales in 2004.
PGM was helped by a property tax incentive program from the city of Fitchburg.
Lego Co. of Billund, Denmark, had an injection molding plant in Enfield, Conn., but phased it out in 2000, moving much of the work to its European factories.
ITW to close plant,
eliminate 200 jobs
RIVERDALE, ILL. - In August, Illinois Tool Works Inc. signed a deal with the union at its Riverdale plastics and steel strapping plant to keep the facility open for at least six months.
That period expires this month, and now ITW plans to close the plant April 30, cutting 200 jobs.
``We were hopeful [when the contract was signed] that they would recognize that this is a viable operation and would work with us to keep it that way,'' said Jim Robinson, director of District 7 of the United Steel Workers of America. ``They went with another option.''
ITW bought the facility last year from Acme Packaging Corp. of Tinley Park, Ill., following a stint in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by Acme's former parent, Riverdale-based Acme Metals Inc.
Even while it was part of the bankruptcy proceedings, Acme Packaging grew, especially in plastics.
The Riverdale plant installed two lines in 1998 to make polyester and polypropylene strapping for industrial goods and other products.
By moving to plastic, Acme Packaging cut into the market share of ITW's Glenview, Ill.-based Signode division, the North American market leader.
``When they purchased the plant, we were very concerned that they would shut it down to get rid of most of the competition,'' Robinson said. ``This has the earmarks of just that.''
ITW Signode executives referred all calls to a spokesman who was traveling and unavailable for comment. In a brief statement to plant workers, ITW officials cited slower sales of strapping items and excess capacity as reasons for the shutdown.