Seaford manufacturer lauded by Carper

By Tony E. Windsor

At a time when the national economy is suffering and manufacturing seems to be leaving cities throughout the country, Seaford has been fortunate to provide a home to a company that incorporates as many as four different manufacturing plants under one roof.

Nestled in the center of the Seaford Industrial Park is Craig Technologies a manufacturer of precision ground solid and hollow plastic balls and custom precision ground plastic rollers. The business came to Seaford in 1999 and employed 12 people. Today Craig Technologies has expanded and grown to include the ancillary manufacturing firms of Craig Ball Sales, Flow Smart and its latest acquisition, Linus Tooling, Inc. In all, the businesses employ over 60 people.

Craig Technology President, Donald Hollenbeck, says it has always been the company's goal to bring more manufacturing to Seaford. "The wonderful thing about being in a community like Seaford and a state like Delaware is the easy access you have to all of the people who can help you grow as a business," he said. Hollenbeck said the state of Delaware has been extremely helpful and Craig Technologies has worked closely with the Delaware Department of Economic Development in gaining access to financial support as the company has expanded.

He added that the city of Seaford has been a supportive partner as well. "The city has always been extremely good about being there for us to lend any help it can to facilitate our expansion here in the Industrial Park," Hollenbeck said.

On Monday morning, Sept. 27, Craig Technologies was visited by a familiar face as U.S. Senator Thomas Carper toured the facilities and was able to see first-hand how the company has grown in its 12 years in Seaford. As governor of Delaware, Carper first welcomed Craig Technologies to Delaware and the Seaford Industrial Park.

Carper toured the Craig Technologies building that also houses Craig Ball Sales, the distributor arm of the business and Flow Smart which produces high purity polymer components used in a host of industries including the pharmaceutical and food industries. Hollenbeck said the company has been successful in streamlining the process by taking on manufacturing, sales and distribution of Craig Technologies products.

"We distribute our products internationally to a world market, so if I am going to pay a firm a commission on sales and distribution, I want to make sure they are working hard to sell my products. So, we decided it was in our best interest to assume the entire responsibility," he said.

As Carper made his way through the Craig Technologies buildings he saw how solid and hollow plastic balls and plastic rollers are made and prepared for valves and bearings to be used by chemical, oil, aerospace, appliance, automotive, pharmaceutical, marine, agriculture and military industries.

Hollenbeck explained that having a manufacturing plant that deals with such specialty items allows the business to grow, even during a depressed economic climate.

"These industries continue to have a demand for their products and our parts are necessary, so we are able to have enhanced production even when other areas of the economy are causing a loss of business growth," he said. Craig Technologies partner, Rob Hollenbeck, said that the businesses under the umbrella of Craig Technologies have been able to double productivity and sales every two years. Flow Smart, another division of Craig Technologies, manufactures high purity seals and gaskets used in the biotech, pharmaceutical and food processing industries. In July, Flow Smart acquired W.L. Gore's PharmBio Wire and Fabric Reinforced Hose Business, formerly located in Elkton, Md. Production and sales were moved to Seaford. In preparation for the move, a new building had to be located for the fabric and wire hose operation.

Hollenbeck said the building formerly occupied by Southern Metals in the Industrial Park was available. Southern Metals was the former contracted cleaning company for the Seaford DuPont plant's production equipment.

The building was donated to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and the hospital stipulated that it would only be accepted if there was assurance that it could be sold. Smart Flow was able to purchase the building in a five-year "purchase-lease" agreement at a cost of $650,000. This enabled the hospital to use the purchase funds to support its non-profit foundation.

Since purchasing the building Flow Smart has invested another $850,000 in renovations to the building, which is now called Linus Tooling, Inc. Hollenbeck said the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also helped secure financial support for the project through its efforts to enhance economic development in rural areas.

Following his tour of the Craig Technologies multi-faceted operations, Sen. Carper said he was extremely impressed with what he saw. "Sometimes states consider economic development as being able to steal another state's businesses," he said. "I believed as Governor and I believe today that it is important to grow our business base within our state.

"We must be able to provide the support to help those businesses that locate to Delaware to grow and prosper. We need to provide access to capital and address regulations and other issues that can impact small businesses. We need to be a friend to our businesses and Delaware is small enough to do this and do it with heart."

Carper added that it is crucial to help bring manufacturing back to Delaware. "When I was Governor of Delaware we had a motto that Delaware is 'smaller, smarter and quicker,' and it truly is," he said. "We need to grow manufacturing in this state, especially in this county (Sussex) and I am so excited to see what Craig Technologies has been able to do here in Seaford."

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