Injection molder Pittsfield Plastics Engineering Inc. is launching a new product that will replace pieces of broken pipe.
The product, made of ABS or PVC, quickly patches conduit lines damaged by construction, accidents or utility work, President Tom Walker said April 8. The Pittsfield, Mass.-based company worked with inventor Bill Earnest to develop the product, called an ERP Patch Kit.
The partnership was so fruitful that Pittsfield Plastics in March purchased a controlling interest in Earnest's small development company, ERP Co. Inc. of Ocala, Fla,, and has retained Earnest as an engineer.
Now, Pittsfield Plastics is considering the next steps in the process: finding customers for the patch kit and then expanding operations, Walker said.
The grooved, tightly sealed conduit easily can repair broken pipe, he said. Broken pieces can lead to exposed wires on streets, a dangerous situation that has led to at least one recent electrocution of a pedestrian and several incidents involving pets shocked while walking in the Boston area, he said.
``Before this, you had to take out a 6- or 8-foot section of a pipe under a street or in the ground,'' Walker said. ``Companies could be fined [for] covering up the problem.''
After two years of development and testing using Pittsfield Plastics' injection presses, the company is talking to possible customers, including large con- struction and utility companies and even retail hardware chains, said Peter Olsta, director of business development.
The company also may acquire an existing plant in the Carolinas to be closer to customers, Olsta said. The molder is looking for potential sellers in that region, he added.
In Pittsfield, the company plans to rent another 15,000 square feet of space in an adjacent building later this year, Walker said. The company expanded three years ago to its current, 80,000-square-foot plant.
Once the new expansion is completed, the company will add 27 employees, bringing the number to about 80 workers.
The molder also will launch another commercial product, which it has not disclosed while awaiting patent approval, Olsta said. In preparation for that growth, Pittsfield Plastics bought a 730-ton Van Dorn press last summer, the largest among the 23 machines at its facility, Walker said.
The company molds a variety of spools, reels, bobbins, tubes and cores in Pittsfield and makes its own molds. Walker and several partners purchased the firm 10 years ago from original owner David Chiorgno, who still works at the 36-year-old company.