Her father, Kent Sampson, an entrepreneur extraordinaire, started Value Plastics in the basement of the family’s Littleton, CO home in 1969 to mold an industrial quick-disconnect fitting after the company he’d worked for abandoned the project.
“I remember this noisy green machine in our basement that had to be filled up with material every so often,” Marcia Sampson, co-owner with her sister Dee, of Eldon James Corp., recalls. “We used coffee cans to fill the hopper, and later used buckets. We’d have to vacuum up the overspill, and I remember being so grateful for vacuum delivery systems when they came along.”
Marcia, her two sisters, and two younger brothers grew up with the sounds of injection molding 24/7, as the business expanded from the basement to the three-car garage, and finally to a standalone facility. The family worked together in the business, picking parts off runners being an ideal job for teenagers. “We never had to look for work outside the home,” says Marcia. “Dad brought the work home to us.”
On Friday evenings, if there were still parts to be picked from the runners and packaged for shipping, the Sampson teenagers would throw a party with spaghetti and ice cream, and all their friends would show up to pick parts and eat.
Over the past 36 years the family and its businesses have evolved. Today, Value Plastics is owned by Marcia’s other sister, Vickie, and her husband. It is a premier molder of medical products located in Ft. Collins, CO.
One of Marcia’s brothers, Lyle Sampson, currently runs the operations of Kent Systems, a maker of industrial quick-disconnect systems that Kent Sampson founded as a separate business while building Value Plastics.
Eldon James Corp., named after Marcia Sampson’s two younger brothers, Lyle Eldon and James, is a molder of proprietary fittings and tubing for the food and beverage, medical, and automotive industries. Marcia and Dee purchased the company from their father after Marcia took a 12-year hiatus from the plastics industry to sell real estate. Dee Sampson had been with the company all along.
At first their father was reluctant to sell to his daughters. It took Marcia and Dee a year to negotiate the deal. In 1996, a new facility was purchased on a 5-acre site in Loveland, CO, and Eldon James located there to accommodate growth. New presses were needed to replace 21 old machines that required constant repair.
Today, Eldon James operates 10 new presses ranging from 85 to 150 tons in an 18,000-ft2 facility. Plans are in the works to expand that to 50,000 ft2.
Eldon James molds hundreds of fittings (primarily in nylon and HDPE), including an antimicrobial line used in beverage dispensers for bars and restaurants. The company also added a flexible PE tubing line they call Flexelene. The tubing also comes with an antimicrobial silver technology to protect against the buildup of biofilm. Flexelene Silver tubing incorporates a silver lining to prevent the growth of a broad range of microorganisms.
In addition to the company’s wide variety of plastic fittings, Eldon James started metal injection molding (MIM) a line of fittings of 316L stainless steel. “MIM took off right away,” says Marcia.
Marcia says that growing up in plastics had a lot of advantages, and recalls those times with a smile and much fondness. “We learned stick-to-it-iveness and developed the self-discipline required to be in business for ourselves,” she adds.
Growing Eldon James for the future is foremost on Marcia Sampson’s mind. “We are always strategizing on how to keep our fittings from being a commodity and locating niche markets so that when people think of fittings, they think of Eldon James,” she says.
Clare Goldsberry [email protected]