Display maker Boston Group is expanding by relocating operations from Medford, Mass., and Youngstown, Ohio, to a large facility in Ravenna, Ohio.
The move will combine the Medford headquarters, metal, wire and electrical components operation with the Ohio plastics extrusion and injection molding business. Boston Group manufactures plastic and metal displays and fixtures, and matting products to protect walls and floors of retail stores, pharmacies and hospitals.
The company will be moving the Medford business over the next eight weeks, President and CEO Russell Rubin said in a June 23 telephone interview. Some workers from that operation there are relocating, making a 600-plus mile move.
Rubin expects to have the Ravenna site up and operating by fall. Currently the company is working on utilities, drainage and getting the site "showroom-ready," he said.
Boston Group is retaining many of the plastics workers from Youngstown, which is only about 35 miles east of Ravenna. They will join the metal workers there in the second phase of the consolidation.
The consolidated business will start with about 50-60 people, reaching 75 by the first quarter of next year and then ratcheting up to 100. Like many U.S. businesses, "we're short on labor right now," Rubin added.
With the new site, Boston Group will double its manufacturing space, using roughly 300,000 square feet of a 420,500-square-foot building that used to serve as a General Electric distribution center.
The site is closer to Boston Group's vendors, allowing for faster deliveries, and the company will be able to boost capacity and output with 24/7 lights-out operation.
Rubin plans to expand capabilities and add equipment. The plastics operation currently has 12 extruders and two injection molding machines.
"We are looking at bringing on some new extruders … and a larger third press," Rubin said. The building will feature a new paint line, automation and assembly equipment as well.
He expects the business to grow 35 percent to 50 percent in the next three years. "There is a huge need for [U.S.] domestically made products. And we're proactive in marketing," he added.
Rubin spoke in a call from Rotterdam, Netherlands, where he and his family live and the company has its European headquarters and distribution operations. The company also has sales offices in France, Germany and other European locations, as well as a presence in Australia, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Rubin made acquaintance with the Netherlands when he took a gap year after high school, traveling to Europe to see how his father launched the division in Rotterdam, a major port city.
"It got into me," he said. He knew he would want to return to Europe, so as he attended Cornell University in the U.S., he learned to speak Dutch and German, and Spanish for good measure. He continued his education in the Netherlands, earning an MBA from Nyenrode Business University.
He is the third generation of the family-owned business. His grandfather, Irvin Rubin, immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe, launching the metals operation in Boston in 1937. Richard Rubin, Russell's father, took over the business in the 1960s, expanding into plastics, "and grew it from a local manufacturer to what it is now, an international business," Russell Rubin said. The Youngstown site opened its doors some 30 years ago.
He and his wife will be transitioning to spend six or seven months a year in the U.S. so he can get "properly keyed in on investments we need to make." Right now, he said he crosses the Atlantic to the U.S. and back about every two weeks to keep on top of it all.
With all his travels, it's not surprising he met his wife — who was a flight attendant for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines — in an Amsterdam airport. They've now been married 23 years and have two children, both enrolled in college in the Netherlands.
Whether there will be a fourth generation in the family-owned business remains to be seen.
"They may develop a passion for it. I want them to explore the world, try new things," he said. Then, "the door's open."