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Making a spa city splash: new $3 million plastics plant is in the near future for hot springs.

THE HOT SPRINGS ECONOMY was bolstered with some good news following a recent industrial announcement. A trio of 30-something entrepreneurs is relocating its manufacturing know-how from Southern California.

Delta Plastics Inc. is developing a $3 million plastic injection molding plant in the Mid-America Park. The 10-acre site is large enough to accommodate a facility triple the size of Delta's initial 60,000-SF building under construction.

The corporation produces plastic containers for cosmetic and hair-care products.

The plant is scheduled to begin production this summer. It will employ up to 70 people by 1996.

"We are very excited about the project," says Jan Strand, the 36-year-old president of Delta. "All of us have been in the business for quite some time. This is a start-up company, though."

Strand is joined by William Maffit, vice president-secretary, and Chris Rakhshan, vice president-treasurer, to form the corporate triumvirate of Delta Plastics.

The three executives worked together during the late 1980s at Santa Fe Plastics in the Los Angeles area before venturing out on their own.

Strand works more on the marketing and sales end of the business, while Maffit and Rakhshan oversee the production end.

Strand's route to Hot Springs was more circuitous than a move from the West Coast. A native of Sweden, he first came to America in 1975 as a foreign-exchange student.

"After that, I became really thrilled with the United States," Strand recalls.

Before returning to the United States for good, he sandwiched a mandatory one-year stint in the Swedish military between a degree at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., and graduate work.

Vying for Jobs

Rakhshan's roots are overseas as well. He came to America via Iran to attend college and make his career.

Maffit began his career with Sante Fe Plastics and rose to general manager before selling his interest under a non-compete agreement.

The effort to land Delta Plastics resulted in a two-year recruitment campaign involving the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission and more than a half-dozen competing communities across the state.

"They initially started looking at several communities in Arkansas," says Andrew Pumphrey, industrial project manager for AIDC. "I think they were sold on the quality of life in Hot Springs, and the transition from California to Hot Springs was less severe."

Like most ventures, securing a workable financial package to bankroll the project was a dominant issue. Three Hot Springs lenders -- Worthen National Bank of Hot Springs, Arkansas Bank and Trust and Bank of Hot Springs--worked together to help finance the Delta plant.

"We were able to get them through the maze of financing that involved small-business administration loans and other sources," says Mike Bush, chairman of the Garland County Industrial Development Corp.

Beyond addressing the topics of quality of life and financing, the successful wooing of Delta underscores that persistence pays off.

"We looked at the state of Arkansas for quite sometime," Strand says. "The state is quite aggressive in recruiting industry to locate here."
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Author:Waldon, George
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Apr 19, 1993
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