A housewares design and marketing firm's desire for high-quality parts and speedy, low-cost shipping for some of its new lines of cleaning and bathroom products led it to choose two U.S. custom injection molders over their foreign competition.
Just in time for the holidays, Casabella Holdings LLC of Blauvelt, N.Y., placed orders for an updated series of polypropylene buckets and totes with Better Molded Products Inc. of Bristol, Conn., and Cavallero Plastics Inc. of Pittsfield, Mass.
``We're very excited that Casabella is designed to build their products in America, not in China very, very few people are choosing to do that,'' Better Molded Products owner Roy Izzo said Dec. 4 by telephone.
The new products, which will be sold beginning in 2009 in stores such as Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond under the Real Simple brand, will replace items previously made in Brazil, said Morgan O'Hara, Casabella's director of product development, during a Dec. 5 telephone interview.
``We constantly try to produce as much products [in the U.S.] as we can. But, given that a lot of our products require a fair amount of assembly, it's often cost-prohibitive to do it here because of the difference in labor wages,'' he said.
``Benefits of doing it here? Not only are we supporting our country and jobs in the United States, but it's often more cost-efficient to produce larger items here, where shipping it from China, we'd be shipping a fair amount of air.''
Cavallero Plastics is molding a 4-gallon bucket and a nesting caddy, as well as a shower tote, O'Hara said. Better Molded Products will make the 3-gallon version of the bucket and caddy, plus a shower tote with a drawer that's aimed mainly at college students who share dorm bathrooms.
Cavallero Plastics President Dario Cavallero would not discuss the products he's making for Casabella. Founded in 1964, Cavallero Plastics employs 90 at an 80,000-square-foot facility. It has 43 presses and molds parts for the electronic and appliance industries, as well as selling spools and bobbins to the wire industry. The company does not release sales figures.
Better Molded Products' partnership with Casabella is much younger established this year with the signing of the bucket/ caddy contract. Izzo said he has built eight new molds to handle the work for Casabella, which he said has about 80 items currently being produced in China and elsewhere outside the United States.
``We worked very, very hard to get in the door at Casabella. It wasn't easy,'' Izzo said.
``This could be the opening of the floodgates for them bringing products back to the U.S.A. from China.''
Better Molded Products will add 18 jobs to its 35-person workforce as a result of the Casabella order, which Izzo estimates will add $2 million a year to his $10 million in existing annual sales.
The 24-year-old firm, which supplies the automotive, housewares and pharmaceutical industries as well as the U.S. military, will run three shifts atits 50,000-square-foot-plant to handle the project, he said.
Better Molded Products also is to receive about $29,000 from the city of Bristol in economic development funds as a result of the Casabella deal, contingent on the creation of new jobs.
O'Hara said his firm may add more U.S. suppliers, as designers come up with new products that would be too expensive to mold in large runs and require maintaining large inventories. ``We always evaluate any potential vendor: what are their business practices, what items are they currently producing, can they handle a certain volume we look at that before we make all these decisions,'' he said.
Casabella designers are exploring bioplastics and biodegradeables as part of the company's long-term strategy, he said.