These plants are thriving in Seaford Industrial Park

By Lynn R. Parks

In 2007, at the very beginning of the most recent recession, Linus Tooling Inc. was in a difficult spot. The metal fabrication shop that at the time was located in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., had just spent $300,000 on new machinery to make parts for one of its customers and that customer had taken its business elsewhere.

"That was a really bad time for us," said James Ryan, president. "We had lost one of our biggest clients and we were struggling." The Orient Corporation of America plant in Seaford saw similarly hard times in early 2009, in the midst of that same recession. "Everything was flat," said David Curry, assistant vice president and manager of the plant. "From January through June of that year, we had a total of only five weeks of production. During that time we didn't have any layoffs, cut backs or furloughs."

Those were difficult times. But the companies hung in there. Now, both Ryan and Curry say their plants are thriving. And they are looking forward to even better days ahead.

Orient Corporation and Linus Tooling are both located in the Seaford Industrial Park. Orient Corporation opened there in 1991; its headquarters are in Kenilworth, N.J. Linus Tooling moved from Huntington Valley to the industrial park this summer after being purchased by Craig Technologies, which is also there.

Orient Corporation is a specialist manufacturer of dyes and pigments. Curry said that most of its production is of black dye that is used to color plastics that are mainly used in the auto industry. The black dye is in the form of a very fine powder. The plant also manufactures liquid ink that is used in stampers.

Orient Corporations Seaford facility employs 18 people.

Curry said that when the Seaford plant is operating Monday to Friday it is capable of producing 3 million pounds of black dye powder every year. Last fiscal year, he said, it produced more than that. And the plant is on track to exceed the 3 million pound mark again this year. "We've been working a lot of weekends," he said.

Curry said that the turnaround for the company started in July 2009, the same month that economists say that the recession ended. "Our business just started to pick up and since January of this year, we've had unbelievably strong sales," he added.

He attributed the uptick in business in part to the increase in cars sales. "But that's not the whole situation," he added. Linus Tooling, which was founded in 1990, was purchased by Craig Technologies in December 2009. It gave up its leased building in Huntingdon Valley in July and moved to the Seaford Industrial Park.

At the time, it had two employees. Now, said Ryan, employee count is up to 10.

"We just hired two people this past week," Ryan said at the end of November. "And in 2011, we possibly could add some more." Linus Tooling makes precision metal parts. On a recent November day, workers were turning out parts for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners and the lighted cap for the Sony PS3 move hand controller. The company also makes metal molds that in turn are used to make molded plastic parts.

"We are very busy," Ryan said. All of the customers that Linus Tooling had when it left Huntingdon Valley stuck with it, he said, and the sales force connected with Craig Technologies "are bringing work in from all over the country for us."

And providing the proverbial icing on the cake, that company that took its work elsewhere in 2007 is back, he added. Both Ryan and Curry envision an even busier year in 2011 than they had in 2010. Like Linus Tooling, Curry said that it's likely that Orient Corporation will hire people in 2011.

"We are looking to expand with a different production line, if it works out," he said. "Our company is healthy and thriving."

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