Resin distributor California Plastics continues to grow after adding personal protective equipment to its product mix.
Downey, Calif.-based CP began offering face masks to its customers in February 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, owner Abby Khanna said in a recent interview with Plastics News.
"The masks were starting to be required, and we had customers asking for them," he added. "We've been able to help hospitals, universities and small businesses."
Some of the masks sold by CP use Acteev technology from Ascend Performance Materials. Acteev attacks and deactivates microbes in fabrics and engineered plastics. Lab tests have found Acteev to be more than 99 percent effective against viruses, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Khanna said CP sold 100,000 of the Acteev masks the first week they were offered. He added that although CP's mask sales aren't as high as they were a year ago — as the number of COVID-19 cases declines and more people get vaccinated — but CP will continue to offer them.
The Acteev mask "is a more comfortable mask that's easier to breathe in and easier to keep on for a long period of time," he said. CP also offers face shields, surgical gowns and similar products.
Khanna launched CP in 2019 after almost 10 years with resin distributors Chase Plastic Services and Cresset Powers Ltd. The firm now distributes a wide range of engineering and commodity resins covering 20,000 grades.
Khanna said CP generates about 70 percent of sales from engineering resins, although the amount of commodity resins it sells has increased in the last year. CP does most of its sales in California but also sells throughout other parts of the U.S. and into Mexico and Canada.
Khanna arrived in California from his native India at age 20 in 2000, with only $200 in his pocket.
"I worked a lot of different jobs and worked my way up," he said. "I worked at gas stations, I was a bouncer in a strip club. … I worked 14 hours a day, seven days a week."
In 2005, Khanna started his own telecommunications business, reselling unused cellphone minutes. He joined Cresset in 2009 after answering an ad for polymer sales.
"I didn't know polymers, but I knew sales," Khanna recalled.
Khanna now runs CP with his wife, Bianca, who's in charge of operations for the 15-employee firm. In addition to its office in Downey, CP operates a warehouse in Commerce and uses other public warehouses as well. The firm plans to move to a larger office in Irvine later this year and to add five to 10 employees as well.
Earlier this year, Khanna and Bianca had their story featured on The Passionate Few, a YouTube video series about entrepreneurs. To date, the video has had almost 10,000 views.
And although supplies of many resins are tight in the wake of Winter Storm Uri, which hit Texas in February, Khanna said better days may lie ahead.
"We hope there's some improvement in resin supply by summer," he said. "It's going to take better planning and open communication with suppliers.
"We want to be customer-centric. By offering PPE products, we've opened a lot of barriers and kept avenues open," he said.