Streetsboro, Ohio-based Step2 Co. LLC is ready to return to rotational molding in Georgia by acquiring manufacturing, distribution and shipping assets in Decatur, where it will employ 150-175 people at a new plant there.
Step2 also plans to hire another 100 employees for its two Ohio plants, in Streetsboro and Perrysville, to meet high demand for its rotationally molded toys and home products.
Founded in 1991, Step2 needed to expand its manufacturing and distribution capacity for products like the top-selling Neat & Tidy Cottage for children as well as home goods such as outdoor furniture, Step2 CEO Tony Ciepiel said in a news release.
Step2 had operated a 109,250-square-foot factory with 104 employees in Fort Valley, Ga., from 2000-2010 to serve the Southeastern U.S. and supply customers in Latin America, until a slowing economy took its toll.
Now the spread of COVID-19 and the shutdown of both travel and school rooms has more people working and learning from home, which is boosting sales of some products.
"Families are spending more time at home during this pandemic. As such, many are looking for a variety of active indoor and outdoor play experiences for children while also seeking outdoor comforts to entertain and relax at home," Ciepiel said in a news release. "The acquisition of these rotomolding machines and other manufacturing and operational equipment will help us meet this demand and stimulate the U.S. economy in the process."
The new Decatur facility has been running since mid-July and is managed by Chris Price, who has more than 40 years of experience in the rotomolding space.
The Step2 release did not mention the company by name, but the Decatur site previously housed CI Rotomolding USA Inc., which announced in October 2019 that it was looking for a joint venture partner or to be acquired.
"The already-established and proven ... operating standards and processes at the Ohio plants] are being implemented in Decatur to support a quick start-up and ensure consistency in our employee experience and our manufacturing quality," Ciepiel said.
Step2 started out with five employees and has grown to more than 800. Products are sold through retailers and distributors in the U.S., Canada and about 70 other countries.
Step2 ranked No. 3 in the most recent Plastics News survey of North American rotomolders, with 2019 sales of $175 million.