A Chinese manufacturer of plastic novelties — which claims to be the world's largest producer of glow sticks and the second-largest maker of bubble blowing products for children — is building an injection molding facility in Texas.
Ningbo Merryart Glow-tech Co. Ltd. is in the final stages of setting up a highly automated injection molding factory in Ennis, Texas, where it will launch a new product for the U.S. market, said Paul Cornwell, managing director of U.S. operations for the Ningbo, China-based company.
“We had an opportunity to make plastic storage cases for a major retailer,” he said. “This is a major investment for us.”
Ningbo Merryart, which became publicly traded in China last year, declined to release details on the investment in the new factory.
But Cornwell said it plans to start operating the 160,000-square-foot facility, about 35 miles south of Dallas, in early 2017. It will be the company's first factory outside China.
The Texas factory will have 14 Haitian injection molding machines in what Cornwell said will be a very automated factory, with a full complement of robots and auxiliary equipment. It will initially employ no more than 20 workers.
At its Ningbo headquarters, the company has 30 injection and blow molding machines and 300 staff, along with product development and merchandising studios.
In the United States, Cornwell said the company also will, in time, open a product development office to work more closely with its customer base, which includes retailers Wal-Mart and Target, craft chain Michaels, grocers HEB and Kroger and others.
“We plan to open a product development and design studio in the Dallas area,” Cornwell said.
He said the company puts a lot of emphasis on product development and innovation. In 2014, Wal-Mart gave it an award for supplier of the year for innovation within its product category.
Cornwell said the wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, called Novelinks LLC, is targeting 50 injection machines in Ennis within five years.
Novelinks bought an industrial building in Ennis that had been vacant for more than 10 years, and Cornwell said the company has spent significant money getting it ready, with support from Haitian's technical center in Ohio and its Texas representative LaBelle Industrial Sales.
He said the company selected Ennis in part because it's about 15 miles from an inland port, making intermodal shipments from ports on the West Coast easier.