K&E Plastics eyes larger digs in Bennington
By HELEN WHYTE | March 25,2013
Eric Broderson of K&E Plastics explains the workings of one of the company’s vertical machining centers. The Arlington-based firm is moving to larger quarters in Bennington.
Tight quarters are prompting Arlington-based K&E Plastics, Inc. to move to much larger premises this spring in Bennington’s Morse Industrial Park.
K&E isn’t a household name, but the small and large items it makes are integral parts of a myriad of products that allow our world to function. K&E takes sheets, rods or tubes of plastics, and machines them into parts for the electrical, aerospace, and medical equipment industries, among others.
For example, the insulating qualities of plastics make them highly suitable for parts in the electrical industries; the light weight and strength of plastics make them valuable components in aerospace industries; the stability and resistance to chemicals make them useful in underwater environments. K&E counts United Technologies Corporation and the U.S. Navy among its many customers.
The company has a number of huge, state-of-the-art computer-controlled vertical machining centers that saw, mill, drill, and turn materials into parts. Once parts are made, they are subjected to a rigorous check in the company’s quality control department. Space is very tight in the current 12,500-square-foot plant; moving to the 30,000-square-foot plant in Bennington will offer the company both production efficiencies and room to grow.
Like so many Vermont businesses, a love of skiing plays a role in the story of K&E Plastics, Inc. The company started up in New Jersey in 1966, but in the mid-1980s then-owner, company founder and Bromley Mountain skiing enthusiast Peter Broderson decided he could work where he skis, so he moved the company to southern Vermont.
K&E remains a family-owned company. Peter Broderson is president and keeps a hand in the company’s direction, but his son, Eric Broderson, now runs the company. “My father would bring home materials and talk parts over the dinner table,” said Eric Broderson.
The younger Broderson attended Castleton State College for a while, but his heart was elsewhere: “When my father offered the chance to join the family business, I jumped at it.” He is now vice president, and has been responsible not only for manufacturing, but also for marketing and all other aspects of the business since 1997.
K&E has seen business rise and fall along with the health of the national economy, but has recently been experiencing healthy sales despite economic sluggishness, operating on overtime for the past year. Most of its 24 employees are machinists skilled in the use of computer-controlled machines. Others specialize in programming or in quality control.
Eric Broderson attributes the company’s health to word of mouth in the industry, good service and quality control, and a thorough knowledge of the commodities it works with and the industries it serves.
“There are opportunities in manufacturing,” he emphasized. “It is important for young folks to know that there is growth in manufacturing, and you can make a good living in manufacturing.” And, of course if you do it in Vermont, you can ski, too. Visit www.keplastics.com for more information.