This post was contributed by Karen Campbell. Ms. Campbell serves as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center where she assists incubator clients with taking strategic goals and developing tactical plans to execute upon.

 

JH Plastics is in its 5th year of operation at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, the business incubation program managed by the Allentown Economic Development Corporation. The company provides custom plastic fabrication and services, specializing in plastic welding and machining in order to create solutions-based products for its customers. Founder Jim Heacock has been a small business owner for 16 years.

Plastic fabrication: A melting pot of disciplines

Heacock describes plastic fabrication as a melding of woodworking and metalworking. It is like woodworking in the sense of design and technique with shape and aesthetic flexibility, but with even tighter tolerances. It is also similar to metalworking in the sense of fabrication techniques like welding, machining, and assembly. His broad experience and skills are fundamental to his specialized services, and his ability to design and troubleshoot solutions for his clients has been the key to his success. He began training as a woodworker, but his knowledge and experience with plastics were shaped through his early career, which included semiconductor wet bench manufacturing.

JH Plastics’ services attract a diverse range of applications and clients. Local customers range including manufacturing companies, restaurants, laboratories, the Allentown Art Museum, and ArtsQuest SteelStacks. Large clients such as Merck, GE, and Air Products have engaged on projects for specialty products that leverage the benefits that plastics bring over other materials.  Some examples of custom fabrication applications include chemical enclosures, commercial kitchen cutting boards, building design components, museum cases, component displays, safety guards, and lab chambers.

The choice for plastics

“Plastic offers many advantages including reduced component weight, improved strength, and chemical resistance, as well as cost,” explains Heacock. “It also adds greater design flexibility and better aesthetics over metal and glass options for certain applications. We start by understanding what the end-use application requirements are for the customer including environment, forces, shielding, and contact. Some projects simply require conceptualization and execution. For more challenging projects, we can specify and design the final product.”

There are many application areas that local companies can benefit from by converting to plastics. A simple application to illustrate this is commercial kitchen cutting boards. Customers can select FDA-compliant plastics that also incorporate food application colors. This color system provides a basis for improved sanitation by preventing cross-contamination, and Heacock’s materials offering lowers the cost for upkeep to ensure safety and inspection adherence. JH Plastics can also provide custom cuts to fit the unique spaces local kitchens have available for their workstations.

JHPlastics typically serves businesses in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding regions, although Heacock does some field services and specialty work for clients beyond that. As a local provider, his customers value the personal aspects of working directly with the owner, particularly when design or material selection is involved. JH Plastics provides short turnaround times and flexible arrangements, combined with customer pick-up in order to outweigh other alternatives.

Life at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center

Every one of the Bridgeworks companies, including AEDC, has collaborated with JH Plastics in some fashion over the past five years. Heacock has helped some of the startups to build out their manufacturing spaces utilizing materials or cut parts. He has also shared tools, materials, and other hardware. In return, he has benefited from collaborating on customer projects with his peers in the program.

“I enjoy the extensive support shared between Bridgeworks incubator companies,” says Heacock. “This collaboration has been allowed me to grow and develop my business.”

About JHPlastics, LLC.

JH Plastics is the premier, custom plastic fabrication job shop and plastic materials supplier in the Lehigh Valley. It provides quality workmanship, a high level of expertise, and a wide breadth of services while maintaining the flexibility and accountability of a small, entrepreneurial business. Visit their website at:  http://jhplasticsllc.com