Salvador Vassallo's business has had its ups and downs.
Ponce, Puerto Rico-based Vassallo Industries Inc., for instance, never grew into extruding wood composite profiles as it wanted. But its chief executive officer diversified his business in other ways, including acquiring housewares injection molder Syroco Inc. of Baldwinsville, N.Y., in 2004.
Now, the company owns more than 1,000 molds in housewares, Vassallo told audience members at a March 6 presentation at Plastics News' Executive Forum in Tampa.
It now has 2.4 million square feet of plant space in the U.S. as it has worked to move beyond building and construction end markets. Over the past year, officials have invested $8 million in new products, machines and technology.
``So we can survive,'' Vassallo said. ``Otherwise, it's going to happen like the dinosaur. It's going to disappear.''
Vassallo added three new Engel injection presses for Syroco: One went to its Siloam Springs, Ark., plant, and two were placed at Syroco's New York location.
In addition, the firm moved 11 presses from Puerto Rico to Siloam Springs as it consolidated PVC pipe fittings manufacturing in Siloam Springs. Syroco also now has a new president, Ray Carrock, who was the chief financial officer. Vassallo is chairman.
``I am confident that Ray will put Syroco in another step,'' Vassallo said March 6. ``He brings new innovations, new strategies and banking knowledge.''
A particularly big triumph has been getting resin price increases through to the big-box retailers.
``Thank God that I put a stop to it,'' he said of the biggest retailers refusing to accept price increases. ``I said, `You will buy my products; you will buy at this price.' And I raised almost 12 percent.''
The other issue that Vassallo discussed was the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement. The agreement covers the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
DR-CAFTA would eliminate Central American tariffs on plastic products over five to 10 years. The trade pact eliminates tariffs immediately on plastic machinery, molds and resins, where the DR-CAFTA countries do not have their own manufacturing. But because the Central American countries have domestic plastic product industries, they wanted a phased-in reduction of tariffs.
``I think the industry should know more about CAFTA because those things in the long run will help our industry go to those countries,'' he said.