Star Plastics has two West Virginia plants eight miles apart that cover a combined 360,000 square feet. Gaylord box after Gaylord box of resin and product line the Ravenswood facility, which houses a fully staffed testing lab. Both Star facilities employ about 70, who keep the plants running around the clock thanks to two 12-hour shifts.
"Production and laboratory are always both running," said Ritchie, who founded the company as SDR when he was 27.
Star Plastics' business is primarily in the U.S., but it has expanded to China. The company has a nine-year partnership with a compounding facility that's licensed under the Star Plastics brand in Shandong province. While Ritchie has no direct employees in China, an employee from the Millwood, W.Va., facility leads that business development and travels there regularly, as does Ritchie. His trips last 10-14 days, and he's in China at least four times per year.
As a younger man, Ritchie knew he wanted to own his own business.
"I was going to find a business, a need, then develop the process and the team to fill it. I didn't start out in plastics; I'm not an engineer. I learned from doing. Plastics became the vehicle to do it, and now I love plastics," he said.
Star Plastics started out as a recycler, and that sustainability legacy still informs the business.
"Being an environmentalist, I want to maximize the materials we have. I'm a heavy-duty recycler at home, too," Ritchie said.
Today, Star Plastics is marketing two materials that continue that legacy. A new product called ReStart will make its trade show debut at the Refocus Sustainability & Recycling Summit in May in Grand Rapids, Mich. ReStart contains more than 50 percent recycled content. It is marketed for the durables market, including appliances.
Additionally, Star Plastics launched Ecotech in 2017, a material consisting of ocean-bound plastics tailored for the electronics market.
"We're all about prime performance of our materials, but we can get there with sustainable materials," he said.
Ritchie says his company's green focus lines up with who he is. His philosophy: "You take care of what you have. I buy a car, I keep the car. I run it until it's done. I don't throw things away. I tend to use things as long as feasible, sometimes longer."