By the middle of 2007, Ohio Valley Plastics will almost double the size of its plant in Evansville. The move will give the firm more room for resin inventory, recycling equipment - and maybe a few of the vintage jukeboxes collected by owner Gary Smith.
OVP currently employs 45 in a 53,000-square-foot space in Evansville, where it operates a resin distribution business as well as doing compounding and recycling. The 15-year-old firm will break ground on a 25,000-square-foot expansion early next year, Smith said in a recent interview in Evansville. That project will be wrapped up by the end of 2006, and a second 25,000-square-foot expansion should be finished by mid-2007.
The total cost of both expansions should be about $1.5 million, said Smith who founded the firm in 1990 after a lengthy career in the resin market, including 12 years with resin maker Nova Chemicals Corp. Today, OVP is a licensed distributor for Nova, as well as for Huntsman Corp., Plaskolite Inc. and Samsung Corp. Most of its compounding work is in polycarbonate, polypropylene, polystyrene and K-Resin-brand styrenic block copolymers.
The first expansion will allow OVP to install a fourth single-screw compounding line. Phase one also will include construction of a siding that can hold 12 rail cars. OVP also operates a 30,000-square-foot plant in Crawfordsville, Ind. - operating as Plastic Innovations - that does recycling and small-scale sheet extrusion.
In the past few years, OVP has shown the ability to adapt in shifting markets. The firm held a recycling contract for Kodak's one-time-use disposable cameras, but the rise of digital photography has caused volume in that business to drop by 70 percent. Volume had been so large that OVP operated a plant in California, but that site closed in 2001. OVP still does similar camera recycling work for Fuji.
To fill the gap, OVP has increased its recycling work with Whirlpool Corp., which operates a major appliance plant in Evansville - and for Subaru, which has a manufacturing site in Lafayette, Ind. OVP also is doing more recycling work with Toyota, which runs an auto plant just north of Evansville in Princeton, Ind. For Whirlpool, OVP recently began recycling refrigerator liners made from high-impact PS.
Overall, OVP gets about half of its sales from distribution, with compounding and recycling each chipping in about 25 percent. Sales in 2005 are expected to be about $35 million, about the same as last year.
``The idea is that if one part of the business isn't where it needs to be, the other two can contribute,'' Smith said. ``We want to use our distribution contacts to expand our compounding and recycling work.''
As for jukeboxes, Smith began collecting them in the mid-1970s and now owns more than 100. He's a vinyl record purist, declining to collect CD jukeboxes because ``the sound's just not the same.''
``It's less expensive than collecting cars,'' Smith said of his colorful hobby.
He keeps about 10 of the machines at the OVP offices, where there's one in almost every room. His oldest jukebox dates back to 1940, while the one outside his office is a classic 1955 Seeburg model.
All of the machines are stocked with records, which Smith displayed by punching up Elvis' ``Love Me Tender.''
The machines attracted attention at a trade show exhibit OVP did a few years ago. There's even a plastics connection to Smith's pursuit, since one of the first major plastic uses was of clear acrylic sheet in jukebox windows in the late 1940s.
As his collection grows, Smith said he's never been tempted to trade any of his jukeboxes for other hard-to-find models.
``I don't think I could bear to part with any of them,'' he said.