The state-quarter craze is helping to fuel demand for Air-Tite Holders Inc. coin holders, and the company has responded by more than doubling its work space.
The North Adams, Mass., company spent $1.5 million to renovate a 21,750-square-foot building and add machinery, including an 88-ton electric Nissei injection molding machine.
``We basically revolve our whole company around protective devices for numismatics - cases, albums, storage boxes, velvet steel cases - you name it,'' President Glenn Therrien said in a June 8 telephone interview.
Air-Tite uses acrylic to produce a two-piece, snap-together covering. Cross-linked polyethylene rings trademarked as Volara hold the coins in the cases.
Whenever you see someone hawking coins on QVC or Home Shopping Network, chances are the coins are in an Air-Tite Holders' case. Therrien said a marketing group helps get his product included in the offers, and a single television showing might mean an order for as many as a half-million holders.
The company had leased a 10,400-square-foot building in Pittsfield, Mass., for 12 years, but needed more space. A search led to the $752,000 purchase of a building in North Adams in November. Air-Tite then spent another $750,000 to knock down walls, paint, add new plumbing and electrical systems, and more machinery. A tower system, a central conveyance system as well as two more injection molding machines and auxiliary equipment were added.
Therrien said the move was completed in January and the streamlined operation allowed him to hire 10 more people. The firm now employs 25.
The company generates more than $2 million in sales, he said, and with the recent additions, it now has seven injection molding machines with clamping forces of 40-88 tons.
Air-Tite is owned by Therrien, along with his brothers Scott and Shawn, and Ann Tanner. The firm was started in 1980 by Norman Therrien after he was laid off from General Electric Co.
``For quite a few years it was just family members - we used to work Saturdays for free,'' said Therrien, noting that in the first years they had 400 square feet of space scattered around five different locations in Dalton, Mass.
However, the company started to take off eight years ago when it began doing its own injection molding.
Now, it supplies coin collectors, private mints, coin dealers and coin supply companies. The Air-Tite products are used for coins, medallions, 1-ounce bars and sports cards.