Simply Better Quality

Bay Plastics Machinery
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

From years of commitment to the industry to outstanding customer service and dedicated, experienced employees, there are many reasons Bay Plastics Machinery (BPM) stands apart from the competition. A respected custom manufacturer of strand pelletizing systems, the company is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

“We design, manufacture, engineer and do everything in-house right here in Bay City, Michigan,” says BPM’s Jim Forgash. The company is a third-generation family-run business, and Forgash is proud of its longevity and its team of 50 employees, including machinists, engineering, and electrical engineers who have almost 500 years of combined experience among them.

Family pride
As Vice President of Sales for the past decade, Forgash looks back and reflects on everything his staff and family have accomplished over the years. Founded by his grandfather Tony Forgash, Sr. and son Tony Forgash Jr. as JETRO Inc. in a Bay City garage, the company soon emerged as a leader in the design and development of strand pelletizer technology. It was purchased by Conair in 1974, with the division renamed Conair JETRO, and Conair centralized all of its remote manufacturing facilities to Franklin, Pennsylvania years later in 1997, with Bay Plastics Machinery then formed by Tony Forgash Jr. and others, including best friend Richard ‘Dick’ Fetter.

“My father and a couple of people were offered transfer positions,” shares Jim Forgash. “Dad didn’t like the idea of all his people going away and losing opportunities, plus he didn’t want to move from small town Michigan to small town Pennsylvania, so they basically all left the company and started up Bay Plastics.”

Now BPM’s Vice President of Technical Development, Fetter worked with Jim’s father at Conair JETRO from the early 1980s until the company closed operations and moved to Franklin. Among the company’s employees are six staff members approaching retirement, who started with the business when it was Conair JETRO after graduating high school about 40 years ago. “We do not have a lot of turnover at Bay Plastics,” Forgash says, his voice full of pride. “That’s one thing that we’ve been pretty fortunate with. Typically, when people come, they stay. Because we’re specialized, and because we are creating specialty pieces of equipment, it’s important to us we keep our people.”

Custom products, parts and service
A pioneer in the strand pelletizing industry, Bay Plastics Machinery is an expert not only in custom manufacturing including manual and automatic strand pelletizers, air knives, water baths and conveyors, but also in spare parts, rotor sharpening and repair, and onsite lab services, rebuilding and repair. Offering technical support that is second to none, BPM’s skilled engineers help clients identify needed parts such as rotors, bed knives, feed rolls and bearings quickly and efficiently. With a massive million-dollar inventory in spare parts in stock and ready to go, keeping client strand pelletizers up and running is rarely an issue.

While a strand pelletizer may resemble a material grinder, manufacturing strand machines requires a completely different skill set. Precision cutting machines operating at very high speeds, strand pelletizers are capable of tolerances that are sometimes smaller than a strand of hair.

With customers worldwide including a large base in Asia, Latin America, and Europe, BPM finds clients either come to them knowing what strand pelletizing machines they need, or approach the company asking for advice, with staff willing to help. “Most of the time, we’re making recommendations and guiding them along the way, based on the application,” explains Forgash. Working closely with clients, the company discusses applications and secondary equipment around extruders and dies, overall design, cutting chambers, custom bases if requested, heights, infeeds, special chutes, how the unit discharges, and even custom paint colors. “We really work around what the application is going to be, and then work with the customer to make sure that our fit is right in line and user-friendly.”

Since Bay Plastics Machinery is a custom manufacturer of strand pelletizing systems, it focuses on designing systems around what the customer’s application is going to be, providing them with a true custom approach. Except for outsourcing components, everything else is done in-house, providing even greater quality control over the end product. “We’re not outsourcing things overseas, and we’re not buying components preassembled,” states Forgash of the company, which even builds and wires its own electrical cabinets much of the time.

Client-first approach
Promoting the company through direct contact and through a social media presence on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, BPM recently hired a marketing assistant and is creating a video library for the benefit of its many customers, which range from major chemical and petroleum facilities – Bay Plastics’ core base – to mom and pop garage shops. “And we literally service all of them, and everyone in between,” states Forgash. “We’re not afraid to travel the globe, and our attitude is: none too big, none too small.”

Taking on a customer-first approach to business means that if a client has an issue, Bay Plastics is right on it. And to ensure customers are familiar with its equipment, the company is creating a series of videos on training, maintenance, and preventative maintenance. “When we have a customer that has a very specific need we may not have a general video for, we’ll make one,” says Forgash.

Working toward a bright future
Like other companies, Bay Plastics has experienced its share of ups and downs. One of the most recent was the passing of Jim’s father Tony at the end of June at age 80. As one of the founders and Chief Executive Officer, Tony was truly a plastic industry innovator and an astute entrepreneur. An ‘old school’ draftsman who held several patents for his outstanding work, he remained modest about his many accomplishments. Jim tried several times to get his dad nominated as Innovator of the Year; Tony wanted nothing to do with it.

“‘It’s not about me, it’s about keeping focus on the company,’” he would say. One of the most telling lines in Tony’s obituary from his family reads: “His innovations, along with his brilliant mind, helped him turn a small town business into a global enterprise.” Truer words were never spoken.

Today, the company that started off in a garage 60 years ago remains an industry leader, not only in its home state of Michigan, but worldwide. Led by President and Chief Operating Officer Jason Forgash and a team of top-notch executives, Bay Plastics Machinery will continue to live up to Tony’s words for years to come: “We build better quality machines, we provide better service after sales, and we offer a more personalized experience tailored to each customer’s desires.”

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