LONG BEACH, N.J.—A succession plan, in the works for about two years, has been put in place at Monmouth Rubber & Plastics Corp., coinciding with a two-phase expansion of production capacity.
John M. Bonforte Jr. assumed the roles of president and chief operating officer of the sponge rubber and plastic foam manufacturer recently. He also purchased majority ownership of the firm.
He replaces his father, founder and former sole owner John M. Bonforte Sr., who will remain with the Long Beach-based business as general manager and technical director. He retains a smaller share of Monmouth.
“A carefully devised and well-executed succession plan ensures the longevity of any company,” the new president and COO said. “And longevity is a major key to corporate success.”
Expansion under way
The expansion at Monmouth's Long Beach plant, which operates 24 hours a day five days a week, involves the addition of a new line and more personnel, according to Bonforte.
“We're close to completing installation of a third mixing line,” he said. The firm added a new mixer, 10-inch extruder and a second boiler at its 40,000-sq.-ft. factory as part of phase one of the project, which significantly will boost capacity. The line is expected to be up and running in mid-April.
“We added a few jobs, and may add another two or three later this year,” Bonforte said. The firm currently has a work force of about 45.
The new line and additional capacity were needed to take care of the firm's growing customer base. “We attribute that growth to several factors,” including the firm's commitment to quality and technical support that has built a loyal customer base, he said. “We have a transparent relationship with our customers that allows us to help each other sell to the end user. Our willingness to develop new products or modify existing components adds value for our customers; it keeps us relevant and not just a commodity supplier.”
He said that Monmouth already is a leader in the manufacturing of closed cell sponge rubber and plastic foam and the increased capacity will further solidify Monmouth's position in the market.
The company also recently purchased additional press equipment at an auction and down the road plans to install it as the need arises. That will be the second phase of the expansion.
Bonforte grew up in the business and early-on knew he wanted to work at Monmouth Rubber, which his father launched in 1964 as Monmouth Rubber Corp. The name was changed in 1995.
During high school in the late 1980s, he began working at the firm on the second shift after school and throughout summer breaks before he headed off to college. He returned to the company shortly after earning his degree in the mid-1990s.
Bonforte left the firm for a few years to work at GE Plastics but returned seven years ago. He became sales manager in 2004, with his responsibilities covering sales, quality and customer service. In 2010, he began overseeing Monmouth's day-to-day operations.
“I've handled most jobs at our plant,” he said. “We've all done pretty much everything here.” Having versatile employees on hand helps when a vacancy occurs because Monmouth likes to promote from within, he said.
Bonforte said he has always enjoyed working at the company and apparently others do too. “We have a lot of longevity. Some (of the firm's employees) have been on the job for 15 to 20 years.”
John Bonforte Sr. has not retired, his son emphasized. “He still works full time.” The succession plan was put in place because, he said, “I'm old enough and he's old enough to do this. It's a life plan à a succession plan à not a retirement plan. And he continues to share his advice and experience with me.”
Monmouth is growing, according to Bonforte Sr., and a key element in its continued success is the technical support it offers, which “is second to none. As other closed cell sponge rubber and plastic foam manufacturers shut down, a significant need persists for the kind of extensive technical expertise and knowledge that only we have,” he said.
Monmouth's primary goals are to remain profitable, produce good quality products and focus heavily on the technical end of its business by developing new technologies and new products, Bon- forte Jr. said.
“We've had a great couple of years,” he said. “We stayed marginally profitable in 2009, with no layoffs, and when the market came back we kept our customers and gained more.”