Half the toys sold in the United States are made in overseas factories, but one local company is working to change that.
In the past six months, Pikes Peak Plastics has made several moves to strengthen capabilities and its competitive advantage. It has moved to a facility that has 40 percent more space than its previous location, added equipment and jobs, and landed a licensing agreement with Begin Again Toys to manufacture biodegradable John Deere toy trucks.
The agreement is Pikes Peak Plastics’ first biodegradable project.
“The unique thing … is that the entire product is biodegradable and contains cornstarch,” said Hal Alameddine, president and owner of Pikes Peak Plastics.
“The exciting part is the message [that we’re] environmentally friendly. And the … product is being made in the U.S. Probably half of companies produce toys in the U.S. nowadays. The rest go overseas. For us to be able to do it competitively is very exciting. This is a prelude to other projects and opportunities.”
Pikes Peak Plastics has operated since 1994. Alameddine purchased the company in 2013 with a goal of growing its capabilities. Since his purchase, employment at the company has gone up about 35 percent, now averaging 30 employees.
“What we’re doing is implementing technologies and improving efficiency to maintain a competitive edge and grow,” Alameddine said.
He has continually worked to recruit companies to partner with Pikes Peak Plastics for projects instead of going overseas seeking lower costs.
“We’ve had a number of customers who either wanted to come back from China and overseas production or start new projects here instead of going overseas,” he said.
Alameddine said Pikes Peak Plastics has three main advantages when it comes to competing with foreign manufacturers: making smaller quantities with faster turnaround and utilizing rapid U.S. shipping, avoiding complicated logistics and being able to immediately solve any technical issue.
“With the new business culture, inventory is a big factor because it is what ties up cash. Our ability to provide a faster turnaround service to our customers with lower quantities is helping them … [to not have to] buy a large quantity and wait a long time to deplete the stock,” Alameddine said.
Pikes Peak Plastics’ new facility means the company can manufacture objects with as small as a 1.3-ounce press capacity to as large as a 400-ton press capacity. Alameddine plans to add three more robotic press machines during the next two years to continue to increase the volume and quality of projects.
Though there are much larger presses, Alameddine said Pikes Peak Plastics is concerned with perfecting its niche, which is maintaining a medium-sized manufacturing company with expertise in engineering.
“I’m a strong believer that equipment does not make product — it’s people,” Alameddine said. “I would never expect any of my people to deliver more than I can deliver. Integrity, honesty and respect are very critical aspects for me when it comes to customers and employees. I spread this from the top down.”
Looking ahead, he said the focus for his team is to add new technologies and continue to be an advocate for manufacturing in the U.S. He also aims to keep and grow jobs domestically.
“Growing jobs in the U.S. and specifically in the Colorado Springs area has been very rewarding to me — to feel that I and my employees are contributing to that,” he said.
“We’re very grateful that we have customers who are working with us to try to help bridge the gap in terms of making products in the U.S. versus overseas. I feel strongly about the future — about the company and about the way things are going.”