GUANGZHOU, CHINA (Sept. 21, 3:20 p.m. ET) — Israeli housewares molder Starplast is considering building a factory in the United States, as it sees growing demand from more cost-conscious American consumers.
The company, which says it's Israel's second-largest injection molding firm with about 110 presses at its factory in the city of Afula, has not settled on details but is giving the plan strong consideration, an executive said in an interview at a Chinese trade show where Starplast was exhibiting.
“We may soon open up a new production facility in the United States,” said Yvonne Famini, export manager for the Haifa, Israel-based company.
The firm counts major American and European retailers like Wal-Mart and Target among its customers for its lines of plastic housewares, storage containers and outdoor play equipment. The company has an industrial design department that develops its own products in areas like food containers, baskets, and outdoor storage, along with a line of children slides, play houses and other items under the Starplay name.
Famini was interviewed at Starplast's booth at the Asiamold trade fair, held Sept. 21-23 in Guangzhou, where the company was promoting a related business selling its used molds to housewares makers in emerging markets.
She declined to give more details of the investment in the United States, but said the company has a warehouse in New Jersey. It would like to both reduce lead times and transportation costs from its factory in Israel, and meet growing demand in North America, she said.
“Business is good,” Famini said. “People who were buying in the upscale chain stores, they are coming down a bit. Wal-Mart, Target, the Dollar Store, our customers, they are getting more business.”
The privately owned firm had sales of about $100 million last year, and is expecting sales growth of at least 10 percent this year, she said.
The company also believes it is having success because it focuses on industrial design. The company employs eight designers, and it's constantly looking for new products and improving on old ones, Famini said.
“Our competitive advantage is based on our flexibility, [and] it is based on our innovation and design,” she said.
Starplast has about 450 employees, and its largest injection molding machine has 2,500 tons of clamping force. It has about 4,500 molds in its stocks.
The company was hoping the Asiamold exhibition, a sister fair to the Euromold fair in Frankfurt, would help it boost its business selling used molds in China.
Starplast and its marketing partner in that business are selling an increasing number of used molds in India and other Asian countries, but China is a newer market for them, said Steven Cartwright, director of the Kent, England firm Mouldman.com, which is Starplast's partner.