Packaging thermoformer EasyPak LLC plans to expand its Leominster, Mass., operation to the tune of $7.5 million.
EasyPak is targeting a $2 million facility expansion plus $5.5 million in equipment purchases, the company told municipal officials at a Nov. 11 city council meeting.
“We're outsourcing 15 percent of our production,” EasyPak administrative manager Josie Inman said at the meeting. “We can't keep up.”
EasyPak is running three shifts a day with its 70 employees. An expansion will allow room for more equipment and open up job opportunities for 15 more staff. The company expects to complete the expansion in about a year.
EasyPak now runs seven thermoforming lines and two sheet extruders, EasyPak facilities manager Cary Boudreau said at the meeting. It plans to add two more thermoformers and another extrusion line in the capacity bump-up.
Boudreau said EasyPak was established in 2004 by owners Hector Echaniz and Marco Barbier, who gained packaging experience in Venezuela but moved from that country to the more stable business environment in the United States. After attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology for advanced education, they decided to establish the packaging business nearby in Leominster, partly because of the local infrastructure supporting plastics businesses.
EasyPak's customer list has grown to more than 140 and includes exports to Canada and the Dominican Republic. In addition to a range of thermoformed PET packaging, EasyPak has introduced packaging based on recycled PET.
EasyPak's growth led it to lease local warehouse space and to set up an affiliated, satellite plant in Michigan, Inman noted.
The company now thermoforms in a 20,800-square-foot plant in Leominster and plans to more than double the space to 49,400 square feet.
Leominster city council approved a tax abatement program that could save EasyPak about $500,000 over five years. Most of the savings come from an abatement in real property taxes that EasyPak would otherwise need to pay on equipment because it is a limited liability corporation and not registered as a manufacturer in Massachusetts, according to Lisa Marrone, an official with Leominster's economic development department. Marrone said EasyPak has experienced “exponential growth” since it was set up ten years ago.
Leominster's nod to tax abatement will need another tier of approval. On Dec. 17 the EasyPak project will be presented to Massachusetts' Economic Assistance Coordinating Council for its approval.