Rotonics Manufacturing Inc. has added a 390-ton Toshiba injection molding press in Bartow, Fla., and rotational molding machines in Gardena, Calif., and Denver.
But the company's leader is more concerned with its unbudgeted expenditure between July and December of an extra $250,000 for energy consumption.
``If our forefathers believed utility companies could run without being controlled, they would have allowed it,'' Sherman McKinniss, Rotonics chairman, chief executive officer and president, said in a telephone interview. ``The 40 percent increase in natural gas was uncalled for.''
Rotomolding and injection molding operations in Bartow accounted for much of the extra cost, said Jay Kelsall, vice president of Rotonics' Florida operations.
Peninsula Energy Services Co. charged the processor 86-90 cents per heating therm for natural gas from February through April but $1.72 per therm in September and $2.46 in October, Kelsall said.
``The natural gas company declared force majeure, relieving [it] of any regulation. I had to stay in business to satisfy customers and paid the penalties'' for exceeding utility-imposed consumption limits. ``The gas was there. I was able to buy it.''
Gardena-based Rotonics' eight other divisions also buy natural gas in large quantities.
``Some saw spikes, but nowhere near what I experienced,'' Kelsall said.
Rotonics in Florida suffered no physical storm damage from the hurricanes that passed through the Gulf region, but the plant has felt other effects. It is still getting hit with high natural gas bills, Kelsall said.
``The public does not understand the impact and how it affects job creation and wages.''
Peninsula Energy - a division of Chesapeake Utilities Corp. of Dover, Del. - said hurricane damage disrupted at least 40 percent of Florida's natural gas supply. As a result, prices in Florida shot up higher than elsewhere, according to Tom Geoffroy, assistant vice president for Florida operations of Chesapeake Utilities.
All suppliers in the state declared force majeure on natural gas and kept the restrictions in place into October until rigs could be repaired, he said.
``Even today, we are not getting normal supplies,'' Geoffroy said from his office in Winter Haven, Fla.
Rotonics' Bartow site employs 100 in six buildings. The facility operates seven rotational molding machines and 14 injection presses with clamping forces of 30-500 tons.
Publicly traded Rotonics reported profit of $1.2 million on sales of $24.1 million for the six months ended Dec. 31.