Acquisition allows Trico to expand, add production lines and plastics offered

HIGH ROLLER: Greg Viera, left, a machine operator, and Frank Costa, ­senior machine operator, work on the manufacturing floor at plastics maker Trico Specialty Films Inc. in North Kingstown. 
HIGH ROLLER: Greg Viera, left, a machine operator, and Frank Costa, ­senior machine operator, work on the manufacturing floor at plastics maker Trico Specialty Films Inc. in North Kingstown. 

PBN Manufacturing Awards 2022
Trico Specialty Films Inc.

Sales exploded by 230% in 2021-22 for North Kingstown plastics-extrusion and plastics-film manufacturer Trico Specialty Films Inc. The growth last fiscal year, compared with 18% in 2020-21, followed its January acquisition of a 40,000-square-foot factory about 2 miles from its original plant and headquarters on Compass Circle in the Quonset Business Park.

Adding the Old Baptist Road site to its operations propelled Trico to exponential expansion.

With two more production lines and increased capacity, Trico met demand from its growing clientele, including the outgoing factory owner’s clients. Customers have flocked to the domestic manufacturer since COVID-19 stymied global supply chains.

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“That is, obviously, the biggest impact,” said Steven Mitchell, Trico president and Arlin Mfg. Co. vice president.

Lowell, Mass.-based Arlin bought Trico in 2016 and brought it under Arlin’s umbrella as a subsidiary to satisfy its supply needs. Mitchell and his two brothers, John and Paul, continue to run Arlin, which was founded by their father in 1954.

“It was a backward-integration acquisition to ensure a continuous source of supply,” said Paul Conforti, Trico chief financial officer.

Buying the Old Baptist Road factory from Toray Plastics (America) Inc. allowed Trico to boost its offerings from two types of plastic films to three.

Each begins with small polypropylene pellets that are melted into viscous fluid that the machines then apply to rollers for different treatments, creating films in various colors, thicknesses, strengths and properties.

Monoaxially oriented polypropylene is a plastic film stretched forward as it goes through the machine to create high-strength films often used by the cable industry as a binder before jacketing cable.

Biaxially oriented polypropylene is a film stretched forward through the machine, and then from left to right to toughen it, creating different properties that offer transparency, durability and suitability for printing.

Cast polypropylene is a film that isn’t stretched but cast onto the roll as molten liquid, then cooled to the desired shape. The printing industry uses this type of film to print graphic advertisements.

The finished products are wound onto large rolls and can be up to 10 feet across, about 2.5 feet in outer diameter and weigh up to 1 ton.

In many cases, these rolls are slit into smaller widths and weights such as the 1/16-inch plastic film used by chewing-gum manufacturers to provide a pull tab for customers to open packs of gum and pull out a stick to chew.

“We have built a reputation over the years on quality and responsiveness and our ability to meet customers’ specifications,” Conforti said. “That’s only helped us to grow, and that’s due to our people.”

The January expansion prompted Trico to more than double its workforce – from 20 to about 50 employees – to operate the two additional production lines at the Old Baptist Road site.

Conforti works with Director of Operations Theodore “Ted” M. Coburn, the son of Trico founder Theodore R. Coburn, to run the 28-year-old company.

“We have a great team in place,” Mitchell said. “We’re looking forward to applying their capabilities now to growing the company forward.”

Trico, which began a new fiscal year on Oct. 1, has been embracing strategies to keep business booming should the economy do more than flirt with hibernation from bull to bear market.

“Right now, we’re looking at investments that are in the facility that are going to allow us to improve our efficiency,” Mitchell said. “We’ve already made some commitments to new equipment we’re going to be adding down there. We’re really excited about how it’s going to improve our efficiency.”

Mitchell and Conforti traveled to Philadelphia in early October to build relationships with several existing customers and court potential new clients.

Trico has other products in the pipeline and operational staff skilled in new-product development to cater to potential new customers’ needs and wants.

“That is also a big focus for next year – a combination of sales and development,” Mitchell said.

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