November 16, 2007
Monarch Celebrates Expansion
Plastics company hopes growth will open up doors to new technology
By Deneen Smith
A century ago an adventurous 13-year-old boy from India left home bound for Africa.
The boy went on to found an industrial empire that began in Uganda, stretched back to India and outward to Canada and to Kenosha, where the company he founded now operates Monarch Plastics.
On Thursday, Hemang Mehta, president and chief executive officer of Monarch Plastics and the grandson of the founder of Monarch's parent company the Mehta Group, celebrated the latest expansion of the plastics business.
Monarch Plastics, which opened in Kenosha in 1983, recently completed a 39,000-square-foot expansion of its headquarters and manufacturing plant at 1205 65th St. The project added 4,000-square-feet of office space and another 35,000-square-feet to its manufacturing facility.
"This expansion will help us get into new technologies," Mehta said, saying the expanded production facility will allow room for additional production lines that will allow Monarch to make products from a different type of plastic now sought by some companies.
Monarch is a custom blow molding company, making plastic bottles and containers for customers that include personal care, household products, automotive and food industries. SC Johnson is among the company's biggest customers.
Pictured: Monarch Plastics Quality Systems Manager Michael Calvillo picks up an ACT mouthwash bottle, just one of the products the company makes plastic bottles for, as he gives a tour of the plant on Thursday. (Kenosha News photos by Sean Krajacic)
The plant operates around the clock seven days a week. "We have the capacity to make a million bottles a day," said Nalin Mehta, Monarch's controller.
Hemang Mehta said the company's roots stretch back to his grandfather Shri Nanjibhai Kalidas Mehta, who "ran away from home" at 13.
He settled in Uganda, eventually founding a series of companies including a sugar plantation, a textile company, and a cotton refining company.
In 1972, during the reign of dictator Idi Amin, the Mehta family, along with other Indian residents, were expelled from Uganda.
After leaving, Mehta family members continued to pursue business interests, founding a plastics company in Canada before coming to Kenosha in 1982. Monarch opened with two production machines and four employees.
Since then, they have expanded three times and now employ 130 people, about 100 of them production workers.
The most recent expansion, which included building on property formerly owned by the American Brass company, brings the headquarters and manufacturing plant to nearly 170,000-square-feet.
"This is a wonderful project," said Mayor John Antaramian. "It is so nice to see this project happening in this community and on this site."
The Mehta Group has continued to grow as well. The family-owned company has interests in industries as diverse as chemicals, cement, finance, engineering and floriculture, with 15,000 employees worldwide and companies in India, Kenya, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The family has returned to Uganda as well, operating a sugar plantation and other interests there.
Monarch Plastics President and CEO Hemang D. Mehta talks of the new expansion during a reception at the plant.