Updated — Oostburg, Wis.-based rotational molder Dutchland Plastics Corp. this year will move into a 50,000-square-foot plant in Canastota, N.Y., east of Syracuse, creating about 45 jobs and retaining 23 positions in the central New York area.
The plant is under construction and will begin production in mid-2018, according to the company.
Ten years ago, Dutchland opened a small plant in Sherrill, N.Y., less than 10 miles from Canastota. That one-machine plant served one customer, but Dutchland's new CEO, Randy Herman, said the Canastota factory will play a broader role.
“The current demand exceeds our capacity, so in order to continue to service our customers we need additional capacity. And we also believe there are good opportunities for growth in that regional marketplace,” Herman said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Canastota news Jan. 23 — the same day that Dutchland announced that Herman became the new CEO. Herman has 25 years in plastics operations executive experience. Most recently, he was president of Sheboygan Falls, Wis.-based Bemis Manufacturing Co.'s Advanced Technology Group, a post he held for 11 years. Herman said he left Bemis last summer, and became a consultant.
One of the companies he consulted was Dutchland Plastics in Oostburg — not far from Sheboygan Falls.
The hiring of Herman as CEO follows a decision by Clyde Swoger, who had been CEO, to transition to a new role as executive vice president of business development. Swoger will focus on Dutchland's activities in mergers and acquisitions from the rotomolding sector.
The new factory in Canastota will be located along the Erie Canal. Dutchland will invest $2.6 million for capital equipment and to customize the rotomolding factory. Herman said the company will move the Sherrill operation, its machine and 23 employees, to Canastota.
He said Dutchland will add more machines to the new plant, but had no details. The plant will do custom molding. “We are going to put on additional capacity immediately,” Herman said.
It made sense to stay in central New York, Herman said. “We already had a customer that we were servicing and had an existing footprint, and we wanted to make sure we could retain the talent we had which is very important to us. So our target was to stay in and around the area,” Herman said.
The Sherrill employees are skilled at rotomolding and understanding customer needs, he said.
Empire State Development, an umbrella organization for New York's two major economic development agencies, has offered up to $475,000 in performance-based tax credits, which are tied to job creation.
Canastota Mayor Carla DeShaw said AECC Group, a Syracuse developer, is building the Dutchland factory and will lease it to the rotomolding company.
Empire State Development, has awarded a nearly $1.7 million Restore NY grant to the village of Canastota that will help with construction. DeShaw said Canastota will reimburse AECC. “This Restore NY project is a great example of remediating and revitalizing an abandoned industrial site and bringing it back to life as a value-added economic property in our community,” she said.
The site has a long history. Canastota was incorporated in 1835, and industry grew thanks to the canal, which gave easy access to markets. (Today the town is along the New York State Thruway, the modern-day equivalent).
In 1898, Watson Wagon Works Co. owned the site, which had made mop handles. In 1971, the site was sold to Titan Homes Inc. which later closed. The location changed hands many times, and was destroyed by fire in 1994, leaving remnants of industrial buildings.
“It looked like a war zone after the fire,” Major DeShaw said.
A long resurrection began in 1999, when Zupan's Salvage and Recycling bought the site and began clearing it. AECC bought the site from the salvage company and began an environmental cleanup, working closely with the village.
Canastota already had a Restore NY grant for some earlier projects, but they fell through. Once AECC began to market the site, the firm started getting calls from interested companies.
Dutchland won out. AECC has worked with Dutchland to design the factory, DeShaw said. It's big news in the village of 5,000 people. She called landing Dutchland “a project of perseverance.”
Dutchland is owned by A&M Capital Advisors LLC, a private equity firm in Greenwich, Conn. A&M bought the rotomolder in January 2017 from three other private equity firms: Isleworth Capital Partners, Omni Investors Group and Squire Ridge Co.
Daven Claerbout remains as Dutchland's director of business development.
Before working at custom injection molder Bemis Manufacturing, Herman was president of reaction injection molder GI Plastek of Newburyport, Mass., and president of two plants for injection molder McKechnie Plastic Components.
Herman said rotomolding is a unique process that he enjoys. “For me it's the ability to mold and produce products that are of giant dimensions, and the growth in the industry is tremendous because of the benefits that a polymer-based product can deliver to the customer,” he said. “It's really expanding the size of plastic products that can be produced.”