On April 25, 1934, Frank
G. Brotz, along with his five sons, formed the
American Molded Products Company, a family
partnership, in Chicago, Illinois. This company
manufactured thermosetting liquid resins, which
were used to cast molded products that included
handles, knobs, radio cabinets, and similar items.
In August 1934, the company
was moved to Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The name was
changed to Plastics Engineering Company. A year
later, the production of liquid resins and castings
was discontinued in favor of pressed moldings
from dry, granular molding compounds. These compounds
were developed essentially from cresol-formaldehyde
resins, mixed with dry fibrous and mineral fillers.
The company requirements for molding compounds
were relatively small in those days and their
production was not economically justified.
During the fall of 1939,
the partnership decided to concentrate its efforts
and limited capital exclusively for a time on
the development of its custom molding department.
Many items were molded and finished for the utensil
industry. By 1944 some 200 workers were employed,
molding and finishing phenolic components for
the Army, Navy, and Air Force ordnance departments
in connection with the war effort. During the
war years, the firm molded "frangible" bullets,
which were used in the training of aerial gunners.
They also produced numerous electrical parts such
as cable connectors, switch bases, flying suit
connectors, earphone bases, and electric brake
After World War II, there
was first an acute, and then a prolonged, national
shortage of molding compounds. The company's allocations
from the various producers totaled only 20,000
pounds per month. In order for the firm to survive,
the partnership decided in March 1946, to revive
its manufacture of molding compounds, this time
from phenol-formaldehyde resins. An addition to
the Geele Avenue plant was built in Sheboygan,
Wisconsin for this purpose and became operational
in November of that year. Mr. E. H. Beach joined
the firm in November 1946, and his energy and
talents were focused on the manufacturing of phenolic
molding material. Markets for molding compounds
and resins other than for company requirements
were subsequently developed. The molding compound
manufacturing division expanded when the resin
plant on North Avenue was built in 1950. In 1959,
production of melamine and melamine-phenolic resins
and molding compounds was initiated.
The firm grew rapidly during the 1960's and 1970's,
with nine major building expansions made to the
resin and molding material manufacturing plant.
A warehouse complex was constructed in 1969 and
expanded in 1976. This facility enhanced the company's
ability to rapidly respond to customer orders
and to efficiently manage its raw material and
finished goods inventories. On December 1, 1973,
the firm officially opened the doors to a new
and distinctive general office.
Beginning in the 1980s and continuing through
the early 2000s, Plenco embarked on a strategic
acquisition program that strengthened the company's
technical capabilities and increased its market
share. The expansion program was launched in late
1982 with the purchase of Genal, General Electric's
line of phenolic molding compounds, located in
Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That was followed by
the purchase in 1998 of the Valite brand of phenolic
molding compounds from Valentine Sugars, Inc.,
of Lockport, Louisiana. During the same period,
a state-of-the-art phenol recovery plant was built
to reclaim phenol from production condensate for
reuse. The process reduces the discharge waste
into the regional wastewater treatment facility
while reducing the need for virgin phenol.
A benchmark acquisition
occurred in 2000 when Plenco purchased the Plaslok
brand of phenolic molding compounds and PlasGlas
polyester bulk molding compounds (BMC) from Plaslok
Corp. based in Buffalo, New York. The technology
transfer ushered in Plenco's production of BMCs
that often are used to replace steel and die cast
aluminum because of their high strength-to-weight
ratio at relatively low cost per cubic inch.
Production facilities continued to grow in response
to the demands of the new acquisitions and the
development, production and marketing of BMCs.
A technically advanced BMC production facility
was constructed in 2001 for environmentally controlled
bulk storage of high-volume resins along with
automatic metering of resins and key ingredients
used in producing BMCs.
Today Plastics Engineering Company, selling
products under its trademark PLENCO, remains a
closely-held family corporation that spans three
generations. It furnishes industry with a wide
range of ready-made or custom-formulated molding
compounds, industrial resins, and molded products.
Plastics Engineering Company maintains
modern production, research, testing, and administrative
facilities in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and is represented
by a fully staffed technical sales group.