Starting with seven blow molding machines, Prime Plastics Inc. is bringing life back to a manufacturing area in Washington, Pa., that has been dormant for more than 10 years.
Springing out of an area devastated by a 1997 fire that consumed a tire recycler, the startup company has refurbished shells of two buildings in the former Ball Corp. glass manufacturing complex to fashion an 80,000-square-foot facility. The company has installed equipment that it purchased from two failed companies. Now, it is gearing up for 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation, according to spokesman George Retos.
``We had a lot of orders in hand before we even got the buildings refurbished. Customers wanted the stuff and now, we will deliver,'' Retos said in a Jan. 23 telephone interview.
He said Prime has 22 employees, six of the blow molding machines are in operation and all seven will be producing product in February. The company is hiring 15 people in the next 10 days and anticipates having 100 employees in six months.
It's an ambitious plan, but Retos, a retired tax attorney who has worked in plastics molding in the past, said that principal investor Jacqueline Meyers, a professor in Pittsburgh, has a strong management team in place. She serves as chairwoman of the board. Rudy DiNardo is the president, John Carl, vice president of engineering and Tim Livers, logistics director. All three have worked in local blow molding operations.
``One of our strengths is that Rudy and John are both engineers so they have a good knowledge of what needs to be done with the molds,'' Retos said.
The company's machines are all Hartig or Sterling models, according to Retos, and range in capacity from 3-25 pounds. The machines came from two blow molders that closed in 2006 - Falcon Plastics Inc. of Washington, Pa., and Best in Plastics Corp. in Bolivar, Ohio.
Retos said the company is in the process of acquiring a dual 50-pound machine and already has prepared the space for it.
He said the company also will install a water-based paint line by the summer.
Prime Plastics is already turning out patio garden units. It also has a proprietary line, called Ultra Cart, of 65- and 96-gallon wheeled waste containers. It will make holiday ornamental products and Easter eggs, and is working with a Canadian company to make outdoor swimming pool accessories.
Retos credited the state for spending $1.8 million to clean up the site. The state also provided a $1.1 million grant to rebuild the infrastructure, including a road, a rail spur and utilities.
He said Prime Plastics hopes to run about 10 blow molding machines - a size where it believes it can maintain control over quality and on-time delivery.