Made In Eastern Iowa: Staying flexible in a world of plastic

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INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- As Bret Kivell walks through East Iowa Plastics, the business of heating and bending plastic for a wide variety of parts does not take long at all.

East Iowa Plastics works on custom thermoforming, including custom egg carts.

"Basically, it's about a 35-second cycle for this product," said Kivell as he guided us to a large system that heats, rotates and presses. "We're making shutters for houses."

We had to stop and take this in, how sheets of plastic reach a molding temperature and the final product is formed.

"What we do is a plastics process where we take a flat sheet of plastic, heat that sheet of plastic up and put that over a mold that, generally, takes a vacuum and suck it into the mold and we recycle that and we do that again."

Kivell said about 20 people work at East Iowa Plastics, nestled on the southeast edge of Independence. The company's website says that Kivell was a consultant back in 1997 after working on a financial review to determine a purchase price for the company. Kivell and his wife Jean bought the company and it soon became East Iowa Plastics.

East Iowa Plastics has found consistent success with a product line that includes top caps for the WeatherBest line of shutters, ventilation inlets for poultry houses and plastic egg flats.

The egg flats, designed to hold cartons upon cartons of eggs, requires an elaborate and detailed process to complete.

"This entire sheet is going to go to the end where we cookie cut individual pieces," said Kivell as he showed the egg flat manufacturing.

Thermoforming is the term used for this method of heating and shaping plastic. The market in the United States has plenty of manufacturers and is an industry that produces billions worth of goods each year.

"There's a lot of changes in the materials going forward to get away from some of the petroleum-based and that does have challenges because of the temperatures but it is progressing," said Kivell.