Novelty Manufacturing Co., a 98-year-old molder of planters and container gardening products, is expanding thanks to a booming business from people planting vegetable gardens.
"We're adding capacity. With the COVID experience, it's become a little bit of a wild market for us," majority owner and President Joe DiMeo said in a telephone interview.
Retailers and online sites that sell planters and watering cans had lots of orders, but overseas suppliers had trouble meeting demand, he said.
"There was a lot of imported stuff that never got delivered to customers. Everyone was looking for anything that they could buy. For us, our basic business is growing, and our contract business is growing. We saw a fit to better utilize a larger machine."
Novelty bought a new Mini Hercules accumulator head blow molder with an 8-pound shot size. The Lancaster, Pa.-based company received a $400,000 low-interest loan through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. The total cost of the expansion project, including auxiliary equipment, was $828,865, according to PIDA.
Novelty was founded in 1922, initially making metal trinkets and cookie cutters. "Things where it was appropriate to name the company 'Novelty Manufacturing,'" DiMeo said.
In the 1950s, Novelty started moving into the garden space, making metal cemetery vases and window flower boxes. It added injection molded products in the 1980s, but for several decades it used custom molders for all of its plastic items.
DiMeo joined the company in 2001. Novelty had gone through three generations of family owners, and the fourth generation wasn't interested in running the business. So DiMeo and a partner, Mark Bolt, bought the company, closing the deal in 2004. Bolt is vice president and responsible for sales.
"Close to 2004, several of our [injection molding] suppliers were having financial difficulty," DiMeo said. One suggested that Novelty had enough volume to bring molding in-house, so they bought that company's assets, which included three silos and a couple of injection presses. A few years later the company added a used blow molding machine to make watering cans.