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June 13, 2012

 

Plastics manufacturer expands

$2.8M investment will triple production at ALPLA facility

PlasticsJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Ron Skinner of McGraw stacks pallets of dishwashing liquid bottles Friday at a production line at ALPLA’s plastics facility in Cortland.

By STEVE HUGHES
Staff Reporter
shughes@cortlandstandardnews.net

The inside of ALPLA’s factory in the Marietta Corp. building on Central Avenue is filled with the quiet hum of machinery.
Plastic bottles of all shapes and sizes zip down the assembly line into orderly rows 24 hours a day, being quickly snatched up, boxed and sent off further into the factory.
The Austria-based plastics manufacturer recently completed a multi-million-dollar expansion in its Cortland factory, adding three new production lines.
ALPLA’s Cortland facility makes plastic bottles, ranging from 150-ounce detergent bottles to small hotel amenity size shampoo and bodywash containers.
Marietta, the company’s main client, will use most of the new product as ALPLA approaches the edge of its available space.
The $2.8 million expansion was partially aided by a $132,000 grant from the state Housing and Community Renewal office.
The grant was announced by the state during its regional economic council awards ceremony in December.
General Manager Bill Bowering said the expansion will more than triple the plant’s output and lead to more jobs.
“We have six lines now and we produce 60 million bottles a year,” he said. “By 2013, we’ll be at 200 million.”
ALPLA’s workforce will rise as well, from 46 employees to 56 by the end of the year.
The new lines will produce smaller hotel amenity bottles for Marietta. The new machinery contain proprietary technology exclusive to ALPLA, Bowering said.
Part of that is a system that allows Bowering and his superiors to view every aspect of the plant’s operations on a touch screen.
“I can be at home and one of my plant supervisors can call me with a problem and I can just look and see what’s going on,” Bowering said. “My bosses in Atlanta can do the same thing.”
ALPLA did not allow pictures of the new production lines in order to protect its technology from competitors.
The company has continually expanded over its short history in Cortland. ALPLA signed a contract in 2007 with Marietta Corp to share space and services in the 400,000-square-foot former Rubbermaid plant at 106 Central Ave.
ALPLA is using approximately 23,000-square-feet in the facility and is nearing its limits.
“We can’t expand much more beyond this,” Bowering said.
Marietta accounts for the majority of its business and 90 percent of the product from the expansion.
The agreement is a unique one that gives both companies a competitive edge when it comes to bidding on new contracts, said Dave Hempson, senior-vice president for business development at Marietta.
“It’s flexibility and cost-savings for both companies,” he said. “It reduces the time you have to wait for product, you can basically walk it across the hall.”
It also gave the local ALPLA plant an edge over other U.S. ALPLA factories.
“We had to bid against other plants for the expansion, “ Bowering said.
Mark Henline, who has worked for ALPLA since it opened in Cortland, said the transition with the new machinery has gone well.
“Just like any start-up there will be a few hiccups, but it’s been great so far,” he said.

 

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