Universal Plastics Celebrates 50th Year Anniversary

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Custom thermoformer grows from early plastics pioneer to industry leader

Universal Plastics Corporation, a Holyoke, Ma based custom thermoforming manufacturer, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. The custom thermoformer was started in Chicopee, Massachusetts in November of 1965 by James R. Peters, a pioneer in the then fledgling field that forms extruded plastic sheets into shapes. With experience gained working in the field, Mr. Peters designed and built his own equipment which used heat and vacuum to shape sheets of thermoplastic used to make products that ranged from covers and containers to signs and displays.

The company grew over the years with contracts from Pratt & Whitney and General Electric for containers and covers used to protect aircraft engine components. Mr. Peters invented and perfected a process used to shape the plastic to precisely protect the delicate seals on the edges of jet engine blades. He also developed a container used to transport people who may have been exposed to radiation in the early days of nuclear reactors. The company was on the cutting edge of plastic components for the computer industry as it developed along the Massachusetts technology beltway Route 128 outside Boston in the sixties and seventies, designing and building housings for cathode ray tubes and enclosures for keyboards and disk drives for companies like IBM, Wang, RCA, Raytheon, Digital Equipment, Data General and many others.

Mr. Peters three sons, Joseph, Michael and Richard, eventually took the reins of the company in the 1990’s and steered it through a tremendous growth period manufacturing custom thermoforming products such as kayaks, circuit board and delicate electronic transport cases, and even the air ducts used to cool the guidance system of the Space Shuttle fleet.

Universal Plastics eventually moved from Chicopee to Holyoke into a modern 100,000 square foot manufacturing facility. The company is still very diverse, firmly planted in the aerospace industry but also manufacturing items as varied as birthing tubs for hospitals to public transportation signage.

Joe Peters took over as CEO and was instrumental in not only taking the strong foundation built by his father James in thermoforming, but fostering and leading a culture of giving back to the community. Joe’s community involvement centers on workforce development in manufacturing and supporting various local organizations in Holyoke and the broader Western Massachusetts area.

In 2012, with the retirement of their oldest brother, Richard, the Peters sold the business to Jay Kumar, who was looking to become hands-on owner of a strong manufacturing platform and liked Universal for its stellar reputation and growth potential. Under Kumar’s leadership and in partnership with Joe Peters, Mike Peters, Jay’s wife Pia Kumar, and the rest of the management team who has been with Universal for many years, the company enjoyed further growth and has added to the workforce at Universal.

In 2013, Jay Kumar also acquired Mayfield Plastics, based in Sutton MA, to add to the custom thermoforming platform which is now the largest in the Northeast and one of the largest in North America. Continuing to support and expand upon the workforce development and community leadership activities set forth by Joe Peters has become a passion for Jay and Pia Kumar.

“We look forward to the next 50 years and carrying on the great entrepreneurial spirit and community involvement demonstrated by the Peters family and led by Joe,” Jay Kumar said. “We expect to continue our growth, create new jobs and look forward to servicing our valued customers who have made this growth possible,” said Kumar.

About Universal Plastics

Universal Plastics is a custom thermoformer based in Holyoke MA with strong legacy of expertise in manufacturing thermoformed plastic parts of the highest quality with a distinct focus on customer satisfaction. Universal has been in business for over 50 years with a world class management team and currently serves customers in a variety of industries including aerospace, medical device manufacturers, transportation, consumer products, food packaging and electronic companies. As a custom manufacturer, Universal has made kayaks, air ducts for the Space Shuttle, all of the bus stop signs currently used in New York City and the bow of the submarines used by the Navy Seals. In 2008 they added a 30,000 square foot addition to their Whiting Farms Road building for a total of 100,000 square feet of production and office space. The company is ISO 9001 certified. For more information visit http://www.universalplastics.com.

About Mayfield Plastics:

Mayfield is a leading manufacturer of custom pressure, vacuum formed and thermoformed parts and components specializing in thermoformed medical devices and components, but also serving a variety of additional industries including aerospace, telecom, electronics, computer, hospital, chromatography, machine-tool and transportation. In 2013, Mayfield Plastics was purchased by Jay Kumar, who also owns Universal Plastics, a custom thermoformer based in Holyoke MA with the intent of growing the thermoforming business locally through the combined strength and synergies of both companies. Together, Mayfield & Universal Plastics represent the largest thermoformer in New England and are proud to offer a manufacturing service which is state of the art. Equally, as a family-run business, Mayfield Plastics takes special pride in upholding a strong commitment to its customers and employees. For more information about Mayfield Plastics, please visit http://www.mayfieldplastics.com.

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Pia Kumar
Universal Plastics
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