Toner Plastics Pivots to Produce for Pandemic Needs
EAST LONGMEADOW – The pandemic sets the tone for many companies like Toner plastics, where activity doubled as it took steps to meet manufacturing needs to combat the coronavirus.
“COVID-19 generated business for us last year,” said company president Jack Warren. “It has kept us very busy.
When kids were stuck at home with little to do, parents turned to plastic craft beads to keep them occupied.
When supplies for making N95 masks for frontline workers were hung in China, Toner Plastics provided elastic straps for life-saving personal protective equipment.
The company has even returned swabs required for COVID testing.
Beads, rubber bands and swabs – three reasons why Toner Plastics’ business has doubled in 2020 and is accelerating through 2021. The key to the success of the plastics manufacturing technology business was to be agile while at the same time re-equipping its machines and labor.
“We had to figure out very quickly how we could double our production of elastic straps that our customers use to make N95 masks,” says Warren.
The Toner Plastics pipeline to Walmart also ran steadily over the past year. When Walmart customers tried to find crafts for their children, they ended up with largely empty shelves.
“Competitive products weren’t on the shelves, but our products were because we are a US-made supplier,” says Warren. “Our crafts for kids really exploded this year, so we had to work really hard to keep our customers in stock when products made in China were stuck there.”
Toner also saw an opportunity in the textile industry and did not hide its interest in manufacturing face coverings. Last year, Toner Plastics created Toner Textiles, a brand new business unit. The division manufactures protective masks in three themes: patriotic; back to school; and animal. The masks became an instant hit at Walmart, according to the president of Toner.
“It was a great business for us. It was a completely new thing, ”says Warren. “They asked for our help to get them a mask because they couldn’t get masks out of China quickly enough, so we were able to deliver. “
Toner Plastics was founded in 1989 with a store and an employee. The company has grown exponentially since then, with three manufacturing plants and 180 employees today. The company has grown 500% over the past five years through mergers, acquisitions and increased sales of its product portfolio, according to Warren.
Beyond its pandemic-related portfolio, Toner also manufactures a range of products, leveraging its injection molding, extrusion, tooling and mold transfer, and contract manufacturing capabilities.
The company never closed its doors during the pandemic, relying on employees to keep the business going while following state and federal safety guidelines for safety.
“Our oversight and management teams were excellent,” says Warren. “They worked the weekends, guided by example and our employees responded. Our people felt we had a purpose. We couldn’t let our customers down.
Anyone can guess how long COVID will continue to bring down some businesses while increasing sales for others. For now, Toner Plastics is committed to helping meet the needs that have emerged amid the pandemic.
“We know what we do is important,” says Warren. “We don’t know what lies ahead, but it will be another development in the history of Toner Plastics. “