Blow molder Alpha Packaging Inc. is wrapping up a 20-machine expansion that will boost its production capacity to about $270 million per year.
The St. Louis firm is completing the installation of three machines, the last of 20 to be added in 2012. The program will boost Alpha's machine count to 180 at seven North American plants.
A key driver of Alpha's growth is its strategic footprint near major customers in nutritional, pharmaceutical, personal-care, household-chemical and niche food and beverage markets, Alpha marketing director Marny Bielefeldt said in a phone interview.
The equipment addition will result in a net gain of 12 blow molders after older, less-efficient machines are replaced, and potentially boost Alpha's sales, which were $230 million in 2011, by $35 million.
“We are working closely in partnership with key customers to invest in the technologies and blow molds that support their growth,” Alpha President and CEO Jeff Kellar said in a news release. He said Alpha has “one of the largest portfolios of stock and custom bottles in the industry.”
Bielefeldt said the firm can hold down expansion costs because it has expertise in refurbishing blow molding machines. The ones installed this year are a mix of new and refurbished units.
Alpha's technologies include continuous shuttle monolayer and coextrusion, injection blow single machines, stretch blow single machines and two-stage stretch blow molders. In North America it can produce containers up to 6.25 liters. Its Roosendaal, Netherlands, plant can make 8-liter containers, and annual sales there are about $10 million, Bielefeldt said.
Alpha expanded by acquisition in spring when it bought Vanga Products (Plastics) Inc. of Surrey, British Columbia. In the U.S., Alpha has plants in Bethlehem, Pa.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Ypsilanti, Mich.; and Salt Lake City, Cleveland and St. Louis. It is owned by Irving Place Capital and employs about 860.
Bielefeldt said Alpha plans to install as many as 19 more blow molders in 2013.