Recycled plastic furniture maker on a steady growth curve
Folks at C.R. Plastic Products Inc. are too busy to lounge in the high-end recycled plastic outdoor furniture they make in Stratford, Ontario.
Sales for the firm have been rising 40 percent a year in the past few years, according to C.R. Plastic Chief Financial Officer Bruce Valentine. The growth rate convinced C.R. Plastic to move to a facility three times the size of its earlier operation in Stratford and to buy more equipment to boost production capacity.
“We have invested several million dollars in the expansion,” Valentine said in a phone interview.
C.R. Plastic had a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its 300,000-square-foot factory on Aug. 22, about a year after it began moving machinery from its former digs. Co-founders Jamie Bailey and Trudie Wiseman presided at the ceremony to celebrate the business they established more than 20 years ago.
C.R. Plastic has two Deltaplast extruders on order to join the eight it now has in Stratford. The company also is investing heavily in robotics and CNC machines to mill its plastic lumber into chairs and other outdoor furniture that it sells through specialty retailers like patio stores and landscaping companies.
Valentine said C.R. Plastic sources post-consumer and post-industrial high density polyethylene and low density PE resins from various sources and also grinds much of the raw material itself. Milk jugs, water bottle caps and U.S. postal trays are among the origins of its feedstock. It consumes some 5 million pounds per year of recycled plastic.
Valentine said his company bought the new facility, a former light industrial factory, and employees are working around the clock seven days a week to fill orders that typically run to 300 units a day. It makes a range of outdoor furniture in the traditional Adirondack style as well as more modern styles. Orders are coming in from as far south as sun-drenched Florida where furniture must withstand punishing UV radiation. The furniture is sold throughout Canada and the United States and in Europe, with exports accounting for about 60 percent of shipments. Valentine said indoor furniture retailers are increasingly adding the firm’s outdoor products to their showrooms.
“Our chairs are said to be the most comfortable Adirondacks on the market,” Valentine boasted.
C.R. Plastic makes furniture components by extruding recycled plastic into its proprietary molds then finishing the planks with CNC machines. Robots do most of the assembly.
Valentine predicts C.R. Plastic will need to buy more equipment if new technology it is developing fulfills its promise.
Stratford has a history of fine wooden furniture manufacturing. Co-founder Bailey and many other employees had worked in the local industry. Bailey saw a need for diverting plastic scrap from landfill and turned to his wood furniture experience to co-launch the plastic furniture company.
C.R. Plastic employs more than 200, making it one of the bigger employers in Stratford, a city renowned for its Shakespeare stage productions. Valentine said sales figures are confidential but one business magazine pegs annual sales at more than $20 million.