CHICAGO — Comar LLC is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar modernization project at a plastic bottle facility in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
The improvements, which the company expects to complete in September, are extensive. But production has continued during the work, CEO Michael Ruggieri said.
“As an organization, we're excited to be leaning forward, making investments, making the business better, growing the company,” Ruggieri said while attending the Plastics Financial Summit in Chicago.
The $7 million project includes “a combination of infrastructure improvements, new molding machines, new molds, really rebuilding that plant and creating a world-class bottle manufacturing company,” Ruggieri said.
“It was a business that was previously owned by another private equity firm that just didn't get the attention and investment that it really deserved,” he said. “It's a fantastic team. We've got great customers. We've got great products. We have great people and a lot of people who want to do the right thing, but have never been given the right opportunity with the right investors.”
The facility uses high density polyethylene and PET with injection stretch and extrusion blow molding machines to focus on the nutritional and pharmaceutical markets.
Private investment firm Graham Partners Inc. acquired Paradigm Packaging Inc., which included this California site, in December 2013 from Linsalata Capital Partners. Graham combined Paradigm with sister companies Scandia Plastics and Precision Medical Inc. to create Convergence Packaging. Convergence, last year, then was merged with Comar, which Graham also acquired in 2013.
“We're really excited to not only be able to invest in that business, but to really make it a part of the Comar organization and really carry their capabilities and our capabilities together to really expand our manufacturing presence in the health and wellness space,” Ruggieri said.
“We're starting with great assets. We're investing in the infrastructure that's going to give us the best efficiency, to help with energy costs, to help with reliability. So you are starting with a great foundation and then combining that with a really robust quality system,” he said.
Improvements at the site are allowing Comar to consolidate from two buildings to one with about 100,000 square feet of space. Features include climate control, positive pressure and air locks. “It's going to be a spectacular plant,” Ruggieri said. “Really investing in not only the equipment, but the people and the team through a combination of training and improved processes.”
Changes at the plant also will provide enough room for future growth, the CEO said, and with that holds the potential for additional jobs. “The expectation is we absolutely build employment.”
The Rancho Cucamonga site will primarily serve the western portion of the United States, but will feature some products that will be shipped around the country, Ruggieri said.