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The Comeback: Largo manufacturer among small businesses enjoying a rebound

Ven-Tel Plastics Corp. is a 29-year-old company run by CEO Catherine Venner and her husband (and company president) Ed Venner. It makes precision injection molding products for various industries.

The comeback: About five years ago, Ven-Tel shifted gears away from automotive molding, more because of difficulties dealing with automakers than the impending auto downturn. Due to both serendipity and rising demand, it moved into commercial molding and medical products molding. It recently picked up work from another manufacturer that is phasing down operations.

Growth projections: Sales rose 27 percent in 2010 to $7 million. The Venners project sales growing this year to more than $9 million. They're on track for $12 million in sales by 2012.

The company plans to add 20 to 30 employees to its 65-member work force within a few months — molding technicians, quality control personnel, office staff and machine operators. As part of a $2.5 million capital expansion, Ven-Tel is adding 14 molding machines, bringing it up to 49 machines. Its 104,000-square-foot plant operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The future: Ed Venner, 76, said he and Catherine, 75, aren't planning to retire and sell the business soon.

Why business is improving:

"It's our ability to meet the customer need for product at a better price. It's our ability to garner more of the market. The overall economy, as far as I see, is not picking up." — Ed Venner

Jeff Harrington, Times staff writer

About the Series: The vestiges of the Great Recession still mark Tampa Bay — from a battered housing market to a beaten-down work force still struggling with near record unemployment. But there are also tales of resilience among small businesses that see 2011 not just as a year of rebuilding, but one of growth. This is part of an occasional series profiling some of those companies on the comeback trail and how they're doing it. Have a story to tell about a company on the rebound? Contact reporter Jeff Harrington at (727) 893-8242 or harrington@sptimes.com.

The Comeback: Largo manufacturer among small businesses enjoying a rebound 02/26/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 25, 2011 7:29pm]
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