Ben Franklin

INVESTING IN PENNSYLVANIA’S FUTURE

Custom Processing Services: Making Things Small Means Big Business

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Custom Processing Services founders Gregg Shemanski and Jeff Klinger showcase one of their micronizing mills, which grinds materials into ultrafine particles.

Over the past 10 years, Custom Processing Services (CPS) has specialized in making things smaller. Waxes, polymers, minerals, metals, fillers, pigments-are all reduced to sizes smaller than a speck of dust. Along the way, owners Gregg Shemanski and Jeff Klinger found that while their products keep shrinking, their business keeps getting bigger and bigger.

A decade after CPS opened a Reading, PA, plant that specializes in micronizing and ultrafine grinding of materials into tiny particles, the company is growing revenue, adding employees and looking forward to a robust future.

CPS’s services require capital-intensive equipment and skillful operation. Unfortunately, when the company was new, prospective customers were often reluctant to trust the company’s ability to deliver what it had promised. To help potential clients feel comfortable working with CPS and to accelerate their launch, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP) linked the company with Penn State-Berks campus for process validation.

“This testing validated our installation and efficiency and was an effective stamp of approval,” says Shemanski.

Steady Growth, Rapid Expansion

Starting in December 2000 with one customer, CPS sales grew steadily and fueled the company’s purchase of a new Reading facility in 2004 and a second in 2007 in East Greenville, PA. CPS was named one of the Top Ten Growth Companies by the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A strategic alliance with equipment manufacturer NETZSCH enabled CPS to use the largest air mill currently in production in the world and gave them access to the latest technological innovations in the industry.

Shemanski and Klinger credit BFTP for driving much of the company’s continued success. BFTP’s involvement included investments totaling $235,000 as well as ongoing business counsel and networking opportunities provided by Connie Faylor, BFTP’s regional manager for Greater Reading/Berks and Schuylkill County.

“Connie is a close, trusted advisor,” says Shemanski. “Connie certainly knows our business and helps us overcome many challenges. She and BFTP feel like part of our company.”

In turn, Faylor says Gregg Shemanski and Klinger brought the right skills and understanding to make the business successful. “They had the perfect formula that we look for,” she says. “They had the right combination of technical and business experience; they understood the market; and they had contacts in the market.” CPS was cash-flow positive after just six months of operation, which is highly unusual for startup companies and is a testament to the strong management team.

A Close Working Relationship

Ben Franklin has continued to work with CPS over the years, linking them in 2002 with Lehigh University’s Enterprise Systems Center and currently with Northampton Community College’s Electrotechnology Application Center to reduce electricity use. Further, the company has invested more than $1 million on modernization and upgrades to the plant and equipment at the East Greenville facility.

“We’ve hired a plant superintendent and a mechanical engineer and office administrator to implement these changes,” he says, noting job opportunities at both facilities. “We also have added a number of operators in the plant and are expanding into more shifts to meet growing customer demand. Employment opportunities exist for manufacturing personnel and maintenance mechanics.”

UPDATE: On May 12, 2009, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA hosted its annual i xchange event at the Zoellner Arts Center on the campus of Lehigh University. BFTP client company Custom Processing Services was featured in a video at the start of the awards ceremony. Click here to view the video.

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This article was featured in
Keynotes December, 2008
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