“We’re very excited about this new project,” Plastek CEO Dennis Prischak said in a phone call Thursday. “It works out really well for us, and we’re looking forward to bringing some bright news for the future of that factory, which received some bad news in the past year.”
The County Home Road plant was vacated by Rexam at the end of 2009, leaving about 220 people out of a job. The company shifted production to another U.S. plant.
During the second week of April, Gov. Bev Perdue made an appearance at the Cole Auditorium to announce The Plastek Group had agreed to purchase the facility, and bring 250 jobs and $19 million in investment to the county.
The company will make the plastic containers for personal care products like deodorant.
Thursday, Prischak said the $1 million to $2 million in upgrades to the plant have already begun as the company refits it to accommodate the workers it plans to hire.
“We closed on the building in mid-April, and we’re currently upgrading the facility to meet our injection molding and assembly needs,” Prischak said. “We will be producing a variety of personal care products at the new plant, and we’ve actually hired a few people who are working in maintenance positions to help us get the factory ready.”
North Carolina Employment Security Commission Rockingham Local Office Manager Jack Haliburton said some of the maintenance workers are former employees of Rexam.
“We saw that several of them had stopped drawing unemployment, and when we asked where they were working, they said with Plastek,” Haliburton said.
He said he plans to meet with the company soon to arrange to have production jobs advertised with the ESC.
Prischak said the company plans to begin taking applications for production positions around August, and they hope to have the plant up and running around March of 2011.
“Obviously, there’s value there if they worked for Rexam and understand what we do,” he said.
Prischak said the company is planning to begin equipment transfers around October or November, and complete the transition in March, when they hope to open the new plant.
“We have a three-year timeline to provide the 250 jobs, but we hope to hire the vast majority of those around the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter of next year,” Prischak said. “We’re anxious to get things started down there.”
As well as former employees of Rexam, some workers from The Plastek Group’s Erie, Penn. location are expected to move to the new plant, according to the Erie Times News.
In an April article accompanying the company’s announcement of its intentions to move to Hamlet, Prischak told the newspaper some of the 200 workers eliminated at the Pennsylvania plant would be transitioned to the North Carolina plant.
The move to North Carolina will take the payroll of the Erie plant from about 1,000 to about 800.
“What we need to do to ensure the success of the facility is to have a fair amount of our people move down there,” Prischak told the Erie paper.
He said Thursday that some of the maintenance workers at the Hamlet plant are from the Pennsylvania operation.
“(The new hires) are working alongside some of our folks from Erie,” Prischak said.
Prischak also told the Pennsylvania publication the decision to move production to North Carolina was based on transportation cost to the company’s customer base.
“Our customers have been spending a lot of money on transportation,” he was quoted as saying. “And we have competitors in the North Carolina area. Our business has been at risk for some time now.”
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at email@example.com.