While plastics injection will remain Primera Plastics’ core business, the venture — called Primera Metals — will enable the 9-year-old company to enter into a new area to generate growth and expand capabilities.
“We saw an opportunity where there was money that could be made, business developed and jobs created,” said Noel Cuellar, the president and a partner in Primera Plastics.
“We want to be able to compete and offer more services to our customers and potential customers,” Cuellar said. “That’s what really helps us stay competitive.”
Work was set to begin this week on a $1.1 million, 35,000-square-foot addition to the Primera Plastics’ 66,000-square-foot facility that opened last July in Zeeland.
The addition, targeted for occupancy by September, will provide warehousing space for the metal laser-cutting and forming operations that will produce precision metal components for automotive customers.
Under the venture, Jemco Fabrication Inc., an Allendale metal fabricator that serves the automotive and office furniture industries, provides the production expertise. Cuellar said Primera Plastics offers the space, distribution system and business structure.
Primera Plastics and Jemco Fabrications came together on the venture through their participation in the Michigan Minority Business Development Council. Their association provided an opportunity to bid together on a contract with an automotive supplier, Cuellar said.
“It’s an opportunity that popped up and we decided to go with it,” he said.
Founded in 1995 with two plastics presses, Primera Plastics produced plastic components for the automotive and office furniture industries and consumer goods sector.
The company today employs 115 people and has 25 presses ranging from 40 tons to 720 tons.
In addition to the metal-forming venture, the company has been working to diversify by enhancing its capabilities to do precision plastics molding, partner and Vice President Ethan Barde said.
Plastics molding and injection, Barde said, remains the company’s core business.
Like the metal-forming venture, expanding the company’s capabilities in specialty production and precision plastics molding will enhance Primera Plastics’ business prospects and diversify the company, Cuellar said.
“We want our customers — when they think they need an expertise — we want them to think of Primera,” he said.
A minority-certified company, Primera Plastics recorded revenue of about $11 million in 2003, a year that saw the company relocate from two smaller, leased facilities into a new, larger production plant and office in Zeeland.
The principals said sales for 2004 are up about 20 percent over last year and on pace to reach $13.5 million as the company secures more work from its existing client base and draws new customers.