(From the June 27, 2011, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
RAVENNA, Ohio—Portage Precision Polymers Inc. is back on track with an expansion project it initially launched in October 2010.
The plan was halted until several key details were ironed out and all funding was in place.
Cost of the project, which requires significant internal construction to make room for a second internal mixer at the company's 179,000-sq.-ft. custom mixing plant in Ravenna, will be about $1.8 million.
A mixing line is being added to pair with the company's mixing and mill line used for specialty compounds at the site.
The second line is needed to increase capacity to meet customers' growing needs, said President and CEO Douglas Hartley.
With a current work force of 52 in place, Portage Precision expects to add about 30 additional positions over the next three years to handle the additional work load in production, the firm's laboratory and elsewhere in the facility, he said.
“It took much longer than we thought it would to pull the project together,” according to Hartley, who had originally hoped to begin construction within the plant in November 2010. A number of problems—including some related to funding—arose, which prevented the project from moving forward at the time.
“But now we're ready to go,” he said. “A grant has been approved to help us with the expansion. The equipment has been ordered and should be here by October, and if everything goes right the F270 mixer should be up and operating in January.”
Portage Precision is financing the project partially through funding provided by the State of Ohio. Ravenna's Neighborhood Development Services applied to the state for a small business grant of $490,000, which was awarded to the city and Ravenna in turn loaned it to the company at a reduced rate of 3 percent, said James Shank of the Neighborhood Development Services.
About $100,000 was lent by the Department of Agriculture and the remainder of the funding came from banks, he said.
The loans from the state and the agriculture department are job-based, and basically ensure that 30 people will be hired during the next three years.
The company, which develops and produces its own rubber compounds, has been operating at the Ravenna plant for nine years.
It needs a new mixing line because it soon will run out of capacity on the old line and, Hartley said, it has a number of customers who will give it additional business if it has a second internal mixing line.
Portage Precision specializes in formulating custom compounds and regularly mixes all standard polymers along with fluoroelastomers and hydrogenated nitrile for extruders and molders.