By Carol McIntire
CARROLLTON – One of the best-kept secrets of Carrollton may be a plastics operation nestled in behind a row of pine trees off a side street in the village.
Invisible to most eyes at its location on Garfield Ave., the company, Noramco, has quietly improved its processes, upgraded its equipment and grown its plastic trash bag business without any fanfare. The company specializes in producing custom trash bags for the medical and janitorial fields.
James Popela, the company’s owner, started making trash bags in a small shop in 1986. Since that time, his business has grown to include two facilities – one in Euclid and one in Carrollton – that have a combined annual output of more than 50 million pounds of finished product.
Popela purchased the Carrollton facility in 1999, which had been in operation for over 40 years under several different names and ownerships.
A young and fresh management team operates the facility today, bringing new ideas and views to the business that have helped it surpass two million pounds of bags produced in one month.
“We value the forward thinking of our employees,” said Michael Keaton, production manager. “Just because an employee may be entry level doesn’t mean they may not hold the key to the next great idea. We value the previous experience of all employees, in all fields. A new perspective may hold the solution to solving an ‘age old’ problem.”
That philosophy is paying dividends. The company recently completed fabrication of a new process that increased output while not taking up additional space in the plant.
“We can now do what would have taken more building space and height with traditional methods. It has drastically increased the output of the plant in a smaller imprint than we could have done with traditional methods,” said Keaton.
The company has made improvements to its shipping and receiving departments in the last couple years. Raw materials are received by rail on the Wheeling and Lake Erie line. Silo storage provides the company with the advantage of stock piling supplies so the company can withstand price fluctuations in the market.
Keaton, who is a military veteran along with Wilkes, said the management team is moving in a different direction and has a passion for employees and customers.
“We have a passion for our employees,” he said. “Top leadership views all employees as dependents. Without us continuing to run a successful business, these dedicated employees would not be able to provide for their families. We also have a passion for what we do and are dedicated to customers. Without them, we would not have anyone to buy the product our employees produced.”
He said the company recently implemented a two-tiered promotion system in the company with the goals: Make it safely; Make it meet high quality standards.
The insight and ideas of the company are paying dividends, according to Keaton. The company recently shipped two million pounds of bags in one month, which translates into approximately 16 million bags out the door in one month from the Carrollton location.
“That is quite an accomplishment,” Keaton proudly stated. “We are just as proud of the fact that everything we ship is made in America: even our cardboard boxes are made in Ohio.”
Along with Keaton, the management team includes:
Steve Marcum, vice president of operations, is a Kentucky native who has been with the company since 2007. He has over 30 years of experience in a process known as blown film extrusion (used to make plastic bags) and has grown the combined companies from $18-$20 million in sales annually when he started to over $40 million today.
Doral Wilkes, plant manager, is a Florida native who has been with the company since 2008 and has over 25 years experience in blown film extrusion.
Keaton, a Medina native, has been with the company since 2012.
Ed Serri, maintenance manager and a Canton native, has been with the company since 2009.
Jeff Tope, shipping and warehouse manager and a Carrollton native, joined the company in 2011.
Jamelle Spikes, corporate scheduler and a native of Painesville, has been with the company since 2009.
Sam Natcher, a Ravenna native who now lives in Carrollton, and Raymond Welch, a Carrollton native who has been with the company since 1978 when it was known as Ohio Poly, round out the management team.
The company prides itself on producing a quality product for customers at a competitive price and being a good neighbor in the community.
“We strive to continuously deliver exceptional products at competitive prices,” said Keaton. “As a small business, we contribute to the welfare of our employees, our customers, our suppliers and the communities which utilize our products. With over three decades in the business, we understand the importance of lasting relationships, which are a foundation of any successful business. We are committed to being fair to all of our stakeholders and deliver dependable products that meet the highest of standards.”
He said the company has a friendly relationship with the community and donates bags to local organizations. Locally, Noramco bags are used at Ace Hardware and Speedway, as well as in Carrollton school buildings, Civics Club events, veterans organizations and the County Fair.
The Carrollton location has 55 employees, and is looking to add additional employees as it grows. “We are looking for dedicated employees who want to grow with the company,” he said.