For the third time this year, New Jersey-based packaging and custom medical molder Comar LLC is expanding.
The first project, announced in February, was in California. The second, announced in June, was in New Jersey. This time Comar is targeting the Midwest.
The company announced Nov. 10 that it is moving into a 160,000-square-foot former plastic molding facility in West Bend, Wis. The new building is less than five miles from an existing Comar plant. The leased facility will triple Comar's local footprint and will eventually house more than $7 million of capital investment in high-tonnage injection molding machines, large cavitation molds and press side automation.
CEO Mike Ruggieri cited demand for disinfecting wipes used to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The pandemic affecting our society has brought an unprecedented surge in demand for Comar's rigid packaging, especially for disinfecting wipes used in hospitals, homes and institutions," Ruggieri said in a news release. "We recognize the critical role our injection molding and blow molding solutions play in delivering essential supplies to the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. This expansion shows our commitment to the fight and will position Comar to better meet demand while addressing the growth and service level needs of our customers.
"We will also be situated to support future injection molding and blow molding business opportunities and partnerships with our extensive floor space," Ruggieri said.
Comar expects to begin production at the site on newly installed equipment in December and commence a full plant move during the first quarter of 2021. The plant will house a range of mid- to high-tonnage injection molding machines, including all-electric presses, and proprietary automation, Comar officials said in response to questions from Plastics News.
The former Gardner Pet Group factory closed in January. According to local reports, the facility molded pet litter pans and boxes, kennels and enclosures. It opened in 2015 and was owned by Zhongheng Pet Article Inc.
James Spalding, Comar's West Bend plant manager, said the company is actively recruiting to fill immediate openings for skilled technicians and shift operators for the new location.
"In addition to the capacity expansion, our team members are looking forward to the improved floor layout, new break rooms, dedicated training facilities and the planned investments in employee development," Spalding said.
Comar owns its existing facility in West Bend, which it plans to divest.
The West Bend announcement continues what has been an active year of expansion at Voorhees, N.J.-based Comar.
In January, the company grew its medical device molding business via acquisition through the purchase of iMark Molding Inc. The 70-employee company is located in Woodville, Wis., 45 miles east of the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., area, a hotbed of medical products development and production.
The iMark business is ISO13485-certified and has ISO Class 7 and Class 8 clean rooms. Its 130,000-square-foot facility has more than 30 injection presses. Customers include makers of medical diagnostic and surgical devices.
In February, Comar announced it is building a 230,000-square-foot custom facility in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. That plant will house injection and injection stretch blow molding and injection molding cells, and it will replace existing Comar plants in Rancho Cucamonga and Garden Grove, Calif.
Finally, in June, the company announced that it is building a 159,000-square-foot injection molding and assembly plant in Vineland, N.J. That expansion is scheduled to be completed by March 2021 and will include increased space for injection molding, assembly and finishing operations, warehouse and storage space, more dedicated product cells and an improved quality lab.
Comar was founded in 1949, and it is principally owned by Morgan Stanley Capital Partners. The company has more than 1,000 employees and more than 1 million square feet of manufacturing and distribution space, plus another 400,000 square feet that it acquired in 2020.