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Practice makes plastic.

Van Buren's Arkansas Poly Inc. Takes Advantage Of Growing Food Processing Industry

Since its creation in 1972, Arkansas Poly Inc. of Van Buren has become one of the state's most successful producers of custom plastic packaging.

The original operation, Arkansas Poly Bag Co., was begun in a small rented building in Fort Smith by two Oklahomans, Tom and Harry Currie. Their only equipment was a used plastic bag-making machine. Their only employee was a combination manager-machine operator.

The Curries replaced the manager, who resigned in July 1972, with Ben R. Gosey. He came to Fort Smith with the promise that he would inherit a one-third interest in the company if he could generate profits.

The first full-time employee, in addition to Gosey and his wife, joined the company in 1973. Two more bag machines were added in 1974-75.

By 1977, Gosey was able to buy out the Curries' interest in the company with the aid of a Small Business Administration loan.

A polyethylene extrusion facility, started in Van Buren in 1981, was expanded in 1985. The entire bag and press department was moved from Fort Smith to Van Buren that same year.

The company changed its name to Arkansas Poly Inc. in 1989. It occupies 10 acres in the Van Buren Industrial Park, operating seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

75 Employees

Seventy-five full-time employees produce 24,000 pounds of plastic per day with three extruders. They also operate three printing presses and five bag machines.

Gosey doesn't plan to stop there. He hopes to add a fourth extruder and other equipment soon, increasing Arkansas Poly's production by 60 percent.

Gosey says the expansion is necessary to accommodate the needs of major clients such as Tyson Foods Inc., Sweetheart Cup Co. and Owens Country Sausage. Food companies make up the majority of Arkansas Poly's business.

"We happen to believe in our industry," Gosey says. "People are always going to eat."

He says the export success of clients ensures the growth of his own business. For instance, Arkansas Poly prints poultry bags for Tyson with labels in Japanese.

"We're going to see an increase in the export business," Gosey says. "I'm optimistic we'll see some changes in the economy in 1992."

Arkansas Poly sales have grown an average of 14 percent per year since 1972. Most of the company's customers are in Arkansas and surrounding states such as Texas, Tennessee and Missouri.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business of the Year: Category II; Arkansas Poly Inc., manufacturer of custom plastic packaging
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jan 13, 1992
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