Canadian water bottler Ice River Springs Water Co. Inc. is expanding its U.S. operations by converting a former toy distribution site in Pittsfield, Mass., into a new manufacturing site to serve the Northeast.
Sandy Gott, vice president of the family-owned business based in Feversham, Ontario, said in a March 16 telephone interview that the company in January purchased a 250,000-square-foot facility that once served as a distribution site for KB Toys.
``We have the equipment on order and what we would like to do is have it up and running by the end of the year,'' she said.
It will be the company's second U.S. production facility; a 230,000-square-foot Morganton, N.C., plant opened in September. The latter plant employs 35, blow molds bottles and will do some injection molding in the future.
Gott said the company is adding workers in North Carolina, and the Pittsfield operation will be similar. It also will start with blow molding and add injection molding as needed.
She said a conservative estimate projects the new plant will hire 50 in the next two years, but noted the company's main plant has 250 workers.
``We do have a plan to have five plants strategically placed in the U.S. in the future,'' said Gott, who added that a decision on the third U.S. site will come in the next six months.
The company was founded in 1995 as a water bottler.
``Initially we bought our water bottles from a converter, but we decided to get into self-manufacturing. We needed a lower price point and a security of supply, so we decided to be vertically integrated,'' Gott said.
The company operates a unit named Blue Mountain Plastics to produce bottles, caps, handles and preforms for water, dairy, juice, vinegar and other liquids.
Ice River operates a 550,000-square-foot facility in Feversham, and a 70,000-square-foot plant in Cranbrook, British Columbia.
The company picked Pittsfield after looking at sites in Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire, Gott said. The availability of power, as well as building suitability and location, were primary factors in the decision.
The company will make mostly PET bottles, but also will use high density polyethylene for items such as dairy bottles.
``Pittsfield fits our plan for centers that can reasonably ship to our customers,'' said Gott.