Modesto, California

Due to increasing interest in sustainability and the skyrocketing costs of shipping and wood, President Paul Bennett, Jr., is forecasting up to 20 percent growth for his company this year.

The history of REPSCO dates back to 1971 when its predecessor company became a pioneer in California plastic recycling. In 1988, the company expanded into the manufacturing of products made with those recycled plastics and today’s REPSCO was born.

Housed within a 50,000-square foot facility in Modesto, REPSCO’s factory produces 8 million pounds of custom plastic slip sheets annually. The factory runs 24 hours a day and five days a week, bringing in annual revenues of $6 million. Bennett purchased the company from its previous owner in 2000.

He had realized through ownership of several other plastics and extrusion companies in Colorado that a better market for slip sheet products was in California. “It’s the seventh largest economy in the world with an emphasis on wine, nut, dairy, olive, and vegetable markets,” Bennett explains. “The California state government also supports manufacturers of products produced from recycled resin with grants and low interest loans.”

California is also closer to suppliers of the recycled resins needed to produce plastic slip sheets. Bennett says that REPSCO sources most of its raw materials from processors within the state first, and then others along the West Coast and in Mexico and Canada.

REPSCO turns this 100 percent HDPE recycled resin into slip sheets using an automated extrusion sheet process involving extruders, custom-built sheet dies, rotary dies, and chill roll stands. “The only part that is manual is the stacking system at the end of the line,” Bennett adds.

The company was just awarded the Golden Award for Overall Excellence in Product Stewardship from the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC). The prestigious award is only given to organizations demonstrating excellence in multiple areas of product stewardship including green design, toxics reduction, packaging reduction, increased reuse, repair, re-manufacture, and convenient product take-back and end of life management.

“We purchase used slip sheets back from our customers through our Green to Gold Program,” Bennett says. “This helps reduce the costs of raw materials for us and goes against the customer’s costs for new slip sheets.” The company is actively working towards enrolling all of its customers in the program though, “to get those using third-party logistics companies to collect our slip sheets and send them back is a struggle.”

REPSCO customers save significantly when they make the switch from traditional wood or plastic pallets to the company’s custom recycled plastic slip sheets. While a slip sheet costs only $2 to $3, traditional pallets can cost $15 to $20 when brand new and as much as $10 when used. Bennett also notes that because slip sheets are more compact and weigh less than traditional pallets, customers can fit more saleable product into each shipping container for the same shipping cost.

Bennett says the industries who can benefit from recycled plastic ship sheets are virtually limitless. “Any industry that uses wood or plastic pallets can change to less expensive plastic slips sheets and save,” he explains. “Our market is growing because the price of wood has gone up over 124 percent since January 2021, and manufacturers and processors are looking at massive cost increases if they continue to use wooden pallets.”

Photos courtesy REPSCO, Inc.

Though REPSCO, Inc. didn’t grow in 2020, Bennett is forecasting 10 to 20 percent growth this year. “We anticipate this will happen in the fourth quarter as the state and federal COVID-19 mandates are reduced or removed,” he adds.

Challenges: “Finding key employees for production,” Bennett says. “I clearly understand the state and federal governments’ initial funding for companies and individuals due to COVID-19, but to continue the program past the initial funding did not create an incentive for people to go back to work.”

Opportunities: Bennett says REPSCO focuses on opportunities within a 100-mile radius of their Modesto plant. “Then we move to opportunities we know within companies on the West Coast and international,” he continues. “REPSCO has a significant freight advantage over its competitors that are mainly located in the south, southeast, and mid-west areas of the USA.”

Needs: “People first,” says Bennett. “Next is equipment for a certain product that we know we can manufacture once we have it. And, as with any small business, working capital is a crucial part of growth, either through investors or partners.”