Niagara Gazette — For the eight years that I’ve written this column, Confer Plastics has had a recurring role in it.
The company has often been used as example when talking about the obstacles US manufacturers face when competing against the Chinas of the world. Similarly, I’ve used our experiences to express some of the concerns shared by New York-based small businesses when they compete against companies located in the more business-friendly political/economic climates of the Carolinas or Ohio.
Some subscribers to this newspaper have read so much about our family business that they want to experience it for themselves, just to see what it’s all about.
Now is your chance.
Confer Plastics just turned 40 years old and to celebrate that occasion, we are having on open house on April 4 at our plant at 97 Witmer Road in North Tonawanda (at the corner of Witmer and River roads).
Tours will start at the top and bottom of every hour from 11:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Each tour will take approximately 45 minutes to complete. We will share the history of the company with you and then walk you through the plant floor, allowing you to see how we transform little plastic pellets into our name-branded swimming pool ladders or a variety of custom products like kayaks and docks.
If the closest that you’ve ever come to a factory is one of those “how it’s made” shows on cable TV, then you’re in for an eye-opening experience. Every year we take local organizations on tours of the plant and all of them walk away in total awe. As our society has changed over the years, most people have become unfamiliar with what goes on within a factory’s walls and many assume that US-based manufacturing is dead. We’ll be showing you that it’s very much alive and how exciting modern production can be. You’ll be seeing some of the largest blow molding machines in North America spitting out some impressive products. You’ll also see my equally-impressive army of coworkers transforming those items into quality finished goods. After witnessing so many moving parts and so many moving people, you’ll have a different appreciation for all of the various manufactured goods that you own.
This event is free and open to the public. It’s a learning experience for kids as much as adults, so we welcome children, too. We only ask that no one under the age of 5 be in the plant and that all minors be accompanied by a parent or guardian. We also require that you make a reservation so we can plan accordingly. So, before March 23rd, please call our office at 693-2056 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make your reservation. Safety glasses and hearing protection will be provided, as will refreshments and some trinkets.
My coworkers, my family and I all look forward to showing off the company to you. We’re pretty proud of what we do and what we’ve done. You’ll get to experience the manifestation of my father’s and my late grandfather’s American Dream and how we help achieve the same for the people who work in our plant and the customers for whom we’ve brought their ideas to life.
Who knows – maybe seeing how we do things at our family-owned and operated small business will inspire you, too, to chase your American Dream. We do know this much, though: It will be a memorable open house for you and for us.Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at TheNewAmerican.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer