Bridgville Plastics Inc., a third-generation injection molding business in southwest Michigan, will close at the end of February unless someone is in a position to buy the manufacturing operation that employs 15.
Founded in 1987 by Manfred Moneta and his son, Thomas, Bridgville Plastics started serving the appliance market from a pole barn with four machines before expanding into the automotive and custom molding markets as well as a larger facility.
Now operating in a 16,500-square-foot facility with 11 presses in Stevensville, a town of 1,150 people near the small town of Bridgman — thus the name Bridgville — the business had been on a growth trajectory.
Sales to the automotive market grew to 40 percent and rivaled the company's business in the appliance market with the remaining 20 percent coming from custom projects such as cart handles and framing components for doors.
Grandson T.J. Moneta joined the company in 2021, planning to carry on. Sales had increased to $2.88 million in 2022 even though the pandemic had brought challenges that persisted related to labor and higher wages.
"When we came out of COVID, wages rose exponentially," Thomas Moneta said in a phone interview.
A goal was set to reach $3.2 million in sales in 2023, in part by bringing in new business, which was a struggle.
"My dad built the company by going out and finding customers," Moneta said. "Now you don't go knocking on doors. You can't even get into a company now through the front door. So much has changed. We weren't able to attract new business."
Satisfying existing customers got trickier, too.