Fire collapses Foam Fabricators plant
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. - A Foam Fabricators Inc. plant in Marlin, Texas, burned almost completely down Feb. 2 after an electrical spark heated a bag that wrapped urethane foam.
The fire started before dawn while several maintenance workers were at the plant, Marlin Fire Chief Tony Hoelscher said Feb. 3. It started in the bagging room and quickly spread to the manufacturing floor of the 120,000-square-foot plant, Hoelscher said. No injuries were reported.
The walls, made of unprotected clear-span steel, buckled and the roof collapsed, Hoelscher said. At one point, the plant had a temperature reading of 2,000° F. The heavy smoke could be seen several miles away.
The blaze lasted about 12 hours in some sections of the building. Only a small, nonmanufacturing area was salvaged. The rest of the site, including equipment, was destroyed, he said.
Officials with Scottsdale-based Foam Fabricators were unavailable for comment before deadline. A receptionist said work from the Marlin plant was transferred to the firm's Dallas site.
The fabrication plant made urethane foam and was one of three Foam Fabricators plants in Texas. The plant, built more than 30 years ago, had 40 workers, Hoelscher said.
Fire officials determined that either static electricity or an electrical short in the bag room caused a spark that led the wrappings to ignite.
InPro buys extruder line, adding space
MUSKEGO, WIS. - Architectural products maker InPro Corp. is adding a second extrusion line to make rigid vinyl sheet and is building an 88,000-square-foot addition for warehouse and office space to its Muskego headquarters.
The company makes wall guards, handrails and other interior products for institutional markets such as hospitals, schools and government offices, and is seeing increased demand for its sheet products, said Evan Bane, director of market development.
``We've just seen a real boom in sales of sheet product,'' Bane said. ``We're seeing some good turnaround in the economy. Projects that may have been a little bit delayed in 2004 are coming on line.''
The company also is opening new markets for its wall guards in high-wear applications such as schools, where they cut down on painting needed to maintain buildings, he said.
InPro is spending $500,000 on the extrusion line. The warehouse space will boost efficiency by consolidating 45,000 square feet of leased space that the company has in New Berlin, Wis., to its existing plant in Muskego, Bane said. The expansion will give the company about 200,000 square feet of space.
He said InPro needed the warehouse space when in 2001 it bought two product lines, for architectural joint systems and for privacy curtain systems for hospitals.
The warehouse expansion should be complete by November, and the additional extrusion line will start operating in May.
The company has a total of seven extrusion lines and seven injection presses. The privately held firm has nearly $50 million in annual sales and employs 285, Bane said.
Plastic Technology expanding in Ariz.
CONOVER, N.C. - Polyolefin foam producer Plastic Technology Inc. is setting up a production plant in Eloy, Ariz., to supply growing markets in the West.
PTI is investing $4 million. The cost covers refurbishing a facility, plus equipment purchases including two extruders, each capable of running about 1,000 pounds per hour, operations manager Bill Alvey said by telephone. Operations should begin in early March.
``We needed to expand our current operation, and the addition ... will provide better service to our customers throughout the West, as well as reducing our freight costs,'' Alvey said.
The Eloy operation mainly will make polyethylene foam. Its product lines will include pipe insulation, profiles for furniture and bedding, sports and recreation goods and engineered profiles for packaging. Alvey said a small amount of the output will be polypropylene foam for specialty uses.
The site will start with 15 employees, and Alvey said that workforce could grow during the next five years to match the 70-80 people that PTI employs at its main plant in Conover.
PTI is a division of Hickory Springs Manufacturing Co., a bedding and furniture components producer in Hickory, N.C. Family-held Hickory Springs runs more than 60 operations in 19 states.