Toray Plastics expanding to meet growing demand
Toray Plastics (America) Inc. never considered relocating its Front Royal-area manufacturing facility when it decided to expand its operations this year.
“There was no motivator to look anywhere else,” says Brendan Arbuckle, the plant manager. “The cost of construction and the cost of doing business are lower here than other places. Also, the labor force here has a good skill set.”
The company, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Toray Industries Inc., is spending $45 million to expand its facility. The plant makes foam products, such as molding and padding for door panels, for the automotive industry. “We also have industrial applications such as flooring and some air ducts,” Arbuckle says.
The expansion was necessary because of the “growth of our main market, the automotive market,” says Hidetaka Hoketsu, general manager of Toray Plastics (America) Inc.’s PEF Division in Virginia. “The forecast we have will surpass our capacity.”
The increased demand made it difficult for the company to develop new products. “We are so busy it doesn’t leave time for new markets. This is an opportunity to have a lot more development time,” says Arbuckle.
The 175,000- square-foot plant, built in 1997, sits on about 90 acres of the company’s 190-acre site in Warren County. It will grow to about 225,000 square feet once the expansion is complete, hopefully early next March. “We expect to be producing product by January 2018,” Arbuckle says.
The company is adding a third process line that will be faster and larger than the two lines currently in operation. “It will increase our capacity by 160 percent from the current capacity,” Hoketsu says.
Toray also plans to increase its workforce from 118 to around 145 employees by the end of the expansion. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services to support employee training.
Wages at the facility are in line with wages paid at Toray Plastics (America) headquarters in Rhode Island where the cost of living is higher. “We are able to give people a good wage compared to other businesses in this area,” Arbuckle says. “It’s good for us when you pay people well and you treat them well and they reciprocate.”