A five-story tall investment in technology will allow an Aberdeen-based manufacturer to double its production capacity in the coming year.
“We are adding staff, adding equipment and we’ve added to our square footage,” said Paul Compton, plant manager at Reliance Packaging. “We are excited. To do what we have done in three and a half years, this is a continuous work in progress.”
Reliance relocated its operations from Florida to the former Plastics Packaging buildings at the corner of N.C. 5 and Anderson Street, in late 2014, and utilizes a three-part manufacturing process to melt down plastic pellets to create film for thin-plastic garden mulch bags, which are printed and cut on-site into the final product.
“We make millions and millions of bags,” Compton said.
To meet customers’ demand, the company embarked on a yearlong effort to expand its operations footprint and production capacity. In February, the Aberdeen Town Board approved a request for a new community economic development grant to help offset costs to repair the roof and electrical capabilities of the adjacent 130,000-square-foot warehouse purchased by Reliance. Construction of an 8,000-square-foot, five-story addition was completed in September by local contractor Sandhills Building Systems, and the new extruder will begin production this month. In addition, a new high-speed printing press was also purchased and brought online this fall. In total, Reliance invested approximately $4 million for equipment and $1.5 million in building improvements.
“It has been an enormous undertaking to put the infrastructure into place. The new equipment represents not only more output but a higher level of quality and printing. It is the best quality that is available in the market today,” said Satish Sharma, Reliance Packaging’s president and chief operating officer. “We continue to spread our customer base and supply nationwide,” Sharma said. “With the new capabilities of the new machines, we can add to our product range.”
The new manufacturing line will increase production by 30,000 pounds of product, in effect doubling the company’s current daily capacity. Another existing extruder on-site is also being rehabbed and, once all five lines are operational, the plant will exceed 60,000 pounds of film per day.
Reliance employs approximately 35 people and hiring is underway with the new extruder line expected to begin operating in early January. Sharma said the company’s long term goal is to employ 60 people at the plant. Reliance works closely with SCC for training staff and the NC Job Works office helps with recruitment efforts. “Last week we hired a half-dozen new staff,” Sharma said. “We need a diversified team to come in.”
Sharma initially relocated Reliance to the corner of N.C. 5 and Anderson Road in Aberdeen, in late 2014. The property had previously accommodated a similar type of manufacturer but had sat empty for several years. Reliance invested six figures to make the building operational, four existing plastic extruders were rehabilitated and newer equipment was installed in a joint venture with Sigma Plastics Group, of Lyndhurst, N.J., which owns the property.
Additional incentives from state and local grant funds totaling about $370,000 provided funding to re-roof the structure, to create a customized job-training program at Sandhills Community College, sales tax exemptions were applied towards the purchase of new machinery and equipment, and a railroad spur line was installed. “The rail line is essential to our business,” Sharma said. “We use it to bring in raw materials, most of which comes from Texas and Canada. All of our product goes out by truck but comes in by rail.”
For more information about Reliance Packaging, visit www.reliancepkg.com.
(Story courtesy of The Pilot 1/3/18)