Thermoformer CMI Plastics Inc. is almost doubling the size of its plant in Ayden, N.C., to boost its recycling program, manufacturing and logistics.
The addition is expected to be complete late this year or in early 2024, though the company just began "moving dirt" March 7, said Steven A. Hasselbach, director of sales and engineering. The expansion will add 60,000 square feet to its 70,000-square-foot plant and provide room for growth.
The family-owned company said the addition will help it move toward its goal of complete vertical integration. CMI makes custom trays and blister and clamshell packaging for consumer and medical products; food presentation, shipping and storage; and protective packaging for automotive and industrial markets. The firm has a full in-house tool shop.
CMI will add its 15th thermoforming line to its stable of high-speed, roll-fed, inline pressure and vacuum thermoforming equipment. After that, the company will start replacing some older machines while continuing to upgrade others by increasing robotic automation, Hasselbach said by phone March 8.
The new space will accommodate shipping and storage of finished goods, particularly for automotive and medical customers. "Last year we had to find off-site storage," which adds complications, Hasselbach said.
"We want to move into more medical and pharmaceutical, to diversify our customer base and increase volume for those customers while increasing our market share," he added.
The $5 million the company is investing in the expansion and equipment also will allow CMI to grow its recycling efforts.
"We currently bale our reclaim and we want to get into grinding the material," which makes sense logistically and economically, he said. "It's a better dollar yield on the scrap."
Hasselbach said CMI also plans to add "a certain level of clean room or clean environment," though the extent of that effort hasn't been determined.
Plastics News estimates CMI's annual sales at $10 million, placing it at No. 104 among North American thermoformers in PN's ranking. It employs about 70 people now and plans to add 12 more over time.
CMI is a unit of Consolidated Models Inc., also of Ayden. The parent was founded in 1939 by Arthur Hasselbach Sr. as a balsa wood airplane model company. To make canopies for the planes, the company built its own thermoforming machine in the 1950s and began transitioning into contract packaging in the 1960s.