IPEC is growing in Brewton

Published 2:55 am Wednesday, December 24, 2003

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
Five years ago, the owners of Pennsylvania-based International Plastics and Equipment Corporation -- better known here as IPEC -- were looking to expand their operations into the Southeastern United States.
The ideal location? One in which a nurturing business climate and dedicated workforce would welcome the company, and make it their own.
Brewton fit the bill, and so in 1998 the company -- founded three years earlier in Newcastle, PA -- put down roots in the city's industrial park. Now, IPEC -- which manufactures plastic caps for bottled water, milk and other beverage containers -- is in the midst of an expansion project that will more than double the Brewton facility's square footage.
The desire to grow here has been largely because the match between the company's desires and the city's attributes has been such a good fit, according to IPEC's vice president of operations Jay A. Martin.
Becoming more than just a business with a facility here, and acting as a corporate citizen in every sense of the word, was IPEC's guiding principal when it decided to expand here in '98.
And that principle, Martin said, will remain intact as the company grows as the result of the new expansion project, which will increase the IPEC facility's square footage from 25,000 to 55,000 square feet.
Much of the new space will be devoted to warehousing, allowing for a smoother flow of incoming materials and outgoing products at the facility. But there will also be new facilities for employees, and renovations to the plant's existing work areas.
Currently, IPEC employs 28 people. Though the expansion won't immediately call for a lot of additional hiring, it is expected to facilitate growth that will eventually lead to the creation of new jobs, Martin said.
So again, Brewton will be in a position to benefit first from the company's ever expanding enterprise. The city was IPEC's first -- and is so far its only -- location outside the New Castle home office, although the company has plans to expand into the Southwest in the coming years.
Expansion is key to the company's long term plans, Martin said, with each new facility serving as distribution hub for an entire region -- just as the Brewton plant has for the Southeast.
Though a plant such as the one here can manufacture and ship countless bottle and container caps, the price per cap is less than one cent.
So shipping truckload after truckload of the products over too great a distance results in freight charges that are not in keeping with the company's profit goals.
That calls for a plant located in each part of the country IPEC wants to serve extensively.
IPEC got its start largely due to the rapid growth of the bottled water industry in the mid and late nineties. Serving that industry is still a large part of the company's business, but it has also moved into manufacturing caps for the dairy industry, and hopes to continue growing in that direction, Martin said.