Just one word: Plastics

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Pictured at the IRIS USA groundbreaking ceremony in Hazleton, Pa., are, from left: Andy Muller, Jr. CEO/Owner, Reading & Northern Railroad, Akihiro Ohyama, IRIS Chairman and CEO, and Hiroyuki (Doc) Takahashi, President of IRIS USA.

IRIS USA, a manufacturer and distributor of injection-molded plastic products, is building a new manufacturing plant at the Humboldt Industrial Park, Hazleton, Pa., on the Reading & Northern Railroad (RBMN).

Sendai, Japan-based IRIS USA has purchased a 34-acre site in Humboldt East and soon will begin construction of its first plant on the East Coast, an $84 million, 500,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility. When completed the plant, will create 95 full-time jobs.

RBMN, a three-time Railway Age Regional Railroad of the Year, worked with CAN DO, a non-profit industrial/economic development corporation serving Greater Hazleton in Northeastern Pennsylvania; Penn’s Northeast, Northeastern Pennsylvania’s regional economic development agency; and others in helping IRIS choose the Humboldt site. “Reading & Northern’s ability to build the necessary track infrastructure for a reasonable price and in a timely matter was critical in the IRIS deliberations,” the railroad noted. “We also worked with other local partners to provide economic incentives to IRIS so that it was able to choose this site. CAN DO’s marketing department worked for more than one year with the Governor’s Action Team on the project, assisted by Hazle Twp., the Hazleton Area School District and Luzerne County, which provided vital tax incentives through the LERTA (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance) program.”

IRIS USA is building the new plant “in response to strong growth in customer demand, especially in the area of e-commerce,” said IRIS President Doc Takahashi. “With the exponential growth of online purchasing, we are pleased to be able to respond to commercial and consumer demand by locating our new facility on the East Coast, with such close proximity to rail lines, highways and shipping ports.”

IRIS USA manufactures plastic organizational products such as storage containers, pet products, kitchenware and lighting equipment for uses for the home, office, craft and hobby, and pets; and also imports small appliances and furniture items from sister factories in Asia.

“On behalf of the 200-plus employees of the Reading & Northern, we are delighted that IRIS has chosen to locate its newest North American facility on our tracks,” said Andy Muller, Jr, Owner/CEO of Reading & Northern in welcoming IRIS as an RBMN customer. “During the site search, we worked closely with the IRIS USA team to make sure their needs were met. Once operations begin, we are confident that IRIS will come to appreciate our excellent customer-oriented service, including guaranteed two hour service windows. We can’t wait to work with IRIS on building its siding and beginning service.”

IRIS OHYAMA was established in 1958, incorporated in 1971, and has its headquarters in Sendai, Japan. It creates consumer products for both household and commercial use in domestic and international markets including Japan, China, Korea, and the Netherlands. In 1992, the company incorporated IRIS USA, and two years later opened its first U.S. facility in Stockton, Calif. Since then, IRIS USA has added facilities in Texas, Wisconsin and Arizona. In addition to the U.S and Japan, IRIS also operates in China, Korea and Europe.

(Editor’s note: The title of this article is based on a line from the 1967 movie The Graduate, which starred Dustin Hoffman.)

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