Home Products International Inc. will spend $10 million to expand facilities in Chicago and El Paso, Texas, but the infusion means sites in Missouri and Georgia will be shuttered.
The housewares injection molder will lay off 260 employees as it reshuffles its North American capacity, while hiring 150 for the Texas and Illinois sites. Plants in Thomasville, Ga., and Louisiana, Mo., will be shut down by the end of March, officials said.
The injection molding capacity from those locations will be moved to Chicago and El Paso, and the company will also make investments in new equipment. Its site in Chicago will add 15 new injection presses and El Paso will double its machine count, although officials were mum on that figure.
The Nov. 18 announcement from HPI represents a focus on growth under its new management team. The company earlier this year underwent a buyout and became privately held under Storage Acquisition Co. LLC. Officials said 80 percent of HPI's manufacturing is handled in the United States.
In its initial phase, HPI will identify gaps in manufacturing and fulfill those to become more efficient in its processes, officials said. It will focus on more decorative products, so executives are looking at ways of enhancing and embellishing products like storage and organizational containers, carts and plastic hangers.
``It's been a difficult business to be in,'' Doug Ramsdale, chief executive officer, said in a Nov. 18 telephone interview. ``Plastics has had its woes, not least of which [are] resin costs and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But in the larger products, Asian competition is only a minor issue. It's where you have high labor content and low bulk products, that's where you see Asian competition.''
Ramsdale believes the North American housewares market is stable and growing. The company has made investments in its marketing department, adding employees from companies like Whirlpool and L'Oreal.
In 2006, the company expects to generate about 15 percent of its sales from products that still are in the development stage.