A small McDowell County company which can list BMW, Lockheed Martin, Gibson Guitars and the U.S. military as just a few of its clients is expanding into the Universal Advanced Manufacturing Center and adding new jobs.
On Tuesday, American Plastics formally announced its expansion and relocation into the Universal Center. This company designs and makes a wide range of injection-molded projects for the aeronautical, fiber optic, automotive and medical fields.
“The products are wide-ranging,” said Chuck Abernathy, executive director of the McDowell Economic Development Association.
American Plastics is owned by James and Sandra Hall and they have been in business since 1998 in McDowell. Their small company, which now has five employees, was located for years off of Sugar Hill Drive in the West Marion Business Park. They had only 5,000 square feet of space at that location.
But during the past few weeks, the Halls relocated their operations to a section of the Universal Center. They now occupy 13,400 square feet of space and will invest more than $100,000 in the building and for new equipment.
Last year, the McDowell County Commissioners held a public hearing and approved incentives so this McDowell company could stay here and expand.
As part of the economic development project, American Plastics agreed to employ 15 more people over a three-year period. In exchange, the company will receive free space in the Universal Center for one year. The value of this lease space is approximately $30,000 a year, according to county officials.
In addition, McDowell County made a number of improvements to that space at Universal, including cleaning it up and adding new lighting, restrooms and air exhaust.
County officials said this incentive and these improvements were worth it.
“It’s exciting,” said County Manager Ashley Wooten. “We’ve got a local company that we can keep local.”
On Tuesday, Abernathy, Wooten, Commissioner Tony Brown and MEDA Board Chairman Butch Justice formally announced this company staying here and expanding.
Tuesday marked the first day of production at the new location.
They were also given a brief tour of American Plastic’s new home at Universal by James and Sandra Hall.
“We do all kinds of stuff as you can see,” said James Hall.
This McDowell County company makes parts for BMW, AT&T and Lockheed Martin. It manufactures a part of the tail hook used on aircraft carriers and a certain type of drill used in bone marrow surgery. Sandra Hall talked about how her firm creates a fuel injector part that was featured in the February 2016 issue of Hot Rod magazine.
And its newest customer is the Gibson Guitar company in Nashville, Tenn. For Gibson, the company makes a part for electric guitars. Hall said some of the musicians who play this type of guitar include Bruce Springsteen, ZZ Top and Bob Dylan.
“You never know who you will be working for,” said James Hall.
American Plastics makes the connectors that are installed throughout the entire command center for NORAD. “Nobody else has anything like this, said James Hall as he held one of the connectors.
Brown, who is the commissioners’ representative for the MEDA board, said he and other county officials are happy about having American Plastics stay here in McDowell and adding new workers.
But it almost didn’t happen that way. At one point, James Hall was considering moving his company to Florida.
“If it weren’t for the county commissioners and Chuck Abernathy, I don’t think I would still be here in McDowell County,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity, being close to McDowell Tech and I-40.”
Abernathy said it took more than year for this to become a reality. He added other economic development projects are coming together and another similar announcement will come soon.