It is said that we can't know where we're going in our future until we understand where we've been in our past. History creates our present and our future, and that's certainly been true for John Currier, president of Currier Plastics Inc., a custom processor with injection and extrusion and stretch blowmolding capabilities.
Currier Plastics was founded in 1982 by John's father Ray Currier, who'd spend most of his career working as a mold/part designer and engineer for another plastics company in the Auburn, NY, area, Auburn Plastics. That company has a rich history dating back to 1876 when it began making shellac buttons, then evolved into Bakelite and finally into thermoplastics. John Currier's grandfather also worked for Auburn Plastics as a toolmaker. "He worked on the Kodak Brownie camera project," stated John Currier with just a hint of pride in his voice.
|Injection molding machine from 1982.|
Auburn Plastics eventually went out of business, and that's when Ray Currier decided to start his own molding business in a 4,000 sq-ft abandoned warehouse. He had two used presses - a 110-ton Engel and a 300-ton Van Dorn.
"He was able to secure some customers from Auburn Plastics that he'd worked with there," John Currier said. "It was just my dad and two other employees from Auburn Plastics. I was in college at the time, getting my MBA when I got a call from my brother asking if I had money any left over from my student loan to help out the young startup - Currier Plastics. I was getting tired of school and decided that maybe a family business opportunity would be good. My brother said, 'Now you're part owner of an injection molding company.'"
John Currier was employee number five. "We did what most startups do - we clawed and scratched for business and took any type of work we could get," Currier told PlasticsToday. "Dad, being an engineer, gave us an edge in part design and mold design, but we struggled for a good 10 years just trying to make payroll, sometimes using a credit card to do that. That history certainly puts things in perspective."
As Currier Plastics grew its business, the company added molding machines as new work demanded. By the 1990s, the Curriers had to sit down and take a hard look at where the industry - and Currier Plastics - was going. "Things were changing, and it became evident that it would never again be business as usual. Manufacturing was declining in the U.S. combined with the offshore threat and growth. We had to find a niche, something to differentiate Currier Plastics from the others."
That differentiation came in the form of adding blowmolding capabilities. "An employee had blowmolding experience so in 1996 we acquired our first extrusion blowmolding machines," Currier said. "We thought we'd combine injection molding and blowmolding, and find customers that needed both capabilities. We first decided on injection molding caps and blowmolding the bottles, but we did a lot of different jobs such as bird feeders, while attracting what we call