Peoria Landmark #485
This is a plastic bathroom tile manufactured by the now defunct Peoria Plastics Co.
I couldn’t find a ton of information on Peoria Plastics outside of a handful of Journal Star articles from the archives showing the rise & fall of the company which began in 1968 and permanently closed in 2005.
Jan 16, 1996
“My work force here is stable.”
The 200,000-square-foot plant at 9000 N. University likely will add another manufacturing shift. Currently, there are two shifts in manufacturing and three shifts in molding.
Employment when Johnson came to Peoria was about 70 permanent full-time jobs. The work force currently is at 100, with about 75 seasonal workers hired during the approaching peak weeks.
Peoria Plastics is the largest manufacturer of plastic Easter eggs in the nation. However, diversification is the key to Johnson’s expansion plans.
“We can’t be so seasonal. We can’t have all our eggs in one basket,” he said.
Already, Johnson has expanded into a line of plastic tableware, which is especially desirable by penal institutions because it is flexible and does not create a sharp edge when broken.
The business also is expanding into the medical field. The firm is manufacturing a kit for doctors to use in allergy skin tests.
Peoria Plastics’ Easter line, including plastic eggs, baskets, toys and gift wrap, is marketed under the Eggsville, U.S.A. label and sold in stores nationwide, including Target, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us.
“Overseas labor may be cheaper, but if you get a bunch of rejects or junk, you can’t send it back because shipping is too expensive. Here, we have total control of our product. When you’re dealing with an overseas work force, they control the product and you’re stuck with what you get.”
Mar 26, 2004
Peoria Plastics Co., the largest manufacturer of plastic Easter eggs in the country, has laid off most of its full-time staff and is in the process of being sold, its plant manager said Thursday.
Between 40 and 50 people were laid off this week from the 55 full-time staff at the plant at 9000 N. University St., said Dennis Countryman. The company’s seasonal work force of about 110 people had already been released for the year, he said.
“It was pretty much the whole plant,” he said.
Countryman referred further questions – including the reason for the layoffs and what company is interested in purchasing Peoria Plastics – to the firm’s parent company, Bleyer Industries of Valley Stream, N.Y.
Calls to Bleyer Industries, which has owned Peoria Plastics more than 10 years, were not returned.
Peoria Plastics began operations in 1968 and, besides plastic Easter eggs, it makes plastic tableware, baskets and gift wrap. Its Easter items are marketed under the name Eggsville, U.S.A. and they’re sold nationwide, including at Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us.
Peoria Plastics was considered for closure in 1996, but instead decided to upgrade machinery and add employees. At one time it employed nearly 100 people full time.
Jan 22, 2005
Bleyer Industries recently filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy in New York.
During the past year the company sold two other of its plants – one in New York, the other in Pennsylvania – and has laid off most of its workforce at Peoria Plastics.
The plant, which normally employs more than 130 people while the seasonal work of making plastic Easter eggs is ongoing, now has fewer than 20 people working.
That’s because cheap foreign imported Easter eggs, mostly from China, have cut deeply into the number of orders once filled at Peoria Plastics. A few years ago, Gus Poulis said, that plant made more than 250 million of the plastic eggs, which were sold through such retailers as Wal-Mart and Toys R Us.
This year, he said, Peoria Plastics made fewer than 100 million of the eggs. “We are working to fill what existing orders we have while continuing to pursue a business partner while under the protection of the bankruptcy court,” he said.
The Poulises said the business reversals Bleyer Industries has experienced are also attributed to the rising cost of raw materials – from 26 cents a pound to 67 cents a pound – and the shipping costs of those materials and the finished product because of high oil prices.
But the chief factor is that Bleyer Industries has been unable to pass those costs on to its customers because of the cheaper labor costs in China and, thus, cheaper Chinese plastic eggs.
“We haven’t raised our prices in about seven years and we’ve been losing money now for the last three or four years,” Gus Poulis said. “In the Far East, labor costs are 60 to 65 cents an hour while here, with benefits, it costs $14 to $15 a hour. Then you consider that over there, a lot of manufacturing is subsidized by the government. We just can’t compete with that.”
The plant on North University is currently owned by G&D Integrated.