You almost need a scorecard or a spreadsheet or a flow chart — or all three — to keep track of all of the plastics projects that Rajiv Naik and his family are involved in.
Naik currently is looking to add five employees — three sales reps and two administrative personnel — at the sprawling, 235,000-square-foot plant that serves as headquarters and distribution center for Next Resins LLC, his Toledo-based recycling firm.
Since 2009, Next has added three blenders at the Toledo site. Two more blenders are expected to be up and running there by the end of the year. Next still operates its original 250,000-square-foot recycling site in Addison, Mich., where it added a new shredder and grinding line in 2009.
The Toledo location — a former stamping plant that had been vacant for several years before Naik acquired it in 2009 — also may eventually be home to the second location of Total Molding Solutions, an injection molding firm operated by his brother, Saurabh Naik.
TMS currently operates a plant making outdoor access boxes and enclosures in Tecumseh, Mich. The firm was launched as an automotive injection molder in 2002, but changed its focus during the economic slowdown that began in 2008. TMS recently bought 16 used injection molding machines, which are being stored at the Next plant in Toledo.
Other businesses and locations operated by the Naiks include:
* A 70,000-square-foot plant making compounds based on recycled resins for Next in Heath, Ohio. The plant employs between 20 and 25 and makes compounds based on recycled polypropylene, polycarbonate and PC/ABS.
* A 60,000-square-foot plant processing high density polyethylene scrap for Next in Fayette, Ohio. The 14-employee site opened in 2008 and includes a shredding line and a grinding line.
* Polymer Alliance Services, an 80-employee recycling plant and warehouse in Washington, W.Va.
* Intercontinental Export Import Inc., a 65-employee recycler and extruded products maker in Ravenswood, W.Va.
Recycling remains at the core of plastics businesses operated by the Naiks. This year, Next should return to the levels of 30 million pounds of recycled materials processed — mainly nylon, PP, PC and PC/ABS — and $17 million in recycling-related sales that it saw before 2008-09.
At the worst of the recession, the firm's sales were down more than 40 percent from their peak, Rajiv Naik, president, said in a recent interview at Next's Toledo headquarters.
Recent increased interest in sustainability and “green” programs should be good news for recyclers, but Naik said that in some ways it's presenting a challenge.
The main issue encountered by Next, according to Naik, is that less scrap is being generated as companies find ways to reuse their scrap internally. This is a big deal for Next, which gets about 80 percent of its volume from industrial scrap, with most of that coming from the auto sector.
“We're constantly looking for more scrap,” Naik said. “Scrap produced is either going right back into the plant, or [processors] just aren't producing as much scrap as they used to.
“Even there, we can take an active role in closed-loop recycling with our customers and take the reprocessed material right back to the same location,” he added.
“This is drawing more attention as material costs and prices increase.”
Some customers also are looking for recycled grades of less common materials — such as one customer who recently was looking for recycled acetal. In those cases, Naik said that his firm can help customers find “an equivalent or an alternative.”
Naik remains optimistic even after a few challenging years.
“We're cranked up and ready to move forward,” he said.