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Chinese manufacturer opens U.S. operations in Upper Macungie

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Bob Chapleski, vice president of operations at Fuling Plastics USA, gives opening remarks at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Chinese manufacturing company's new plant in Upper Macungie Township.
Bob Chapleski, vice president of operations at Fuling Plastics USA, gives opening remarks at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Chinese manufacturing company's new plant in Upper Macungie Township. - (Photo / )

A Chinese plastics manufacturer will bring 75 new jobs to the Greater Lehigh Valley when it opens its first manufacturing plant in America in Upper Macungie Township.

Fuling Plastics USA held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new location Thursday at 6690 Grant Way near Tilghman Street to mark the beginning of its manufacturing operations in the Valley – and nation.

Fuling Plastics China’s decision to begin making plastic products in the U.S. has resulted in the newly incorporated Fuling Plastics USA.

The company makes plastic cutlery, cups, plates, straws and other tableware items.

Blue Rock Construction of Fogelsville is doing the interior fit-out for the 88,0000-square-foot-building, which has sat vacant for several years, said Jarrett Witt, vice president of economic development for Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. The company looked at several other sites, but wanted one with rail access.

“When a business is looking to expand, they don’t need to look any further,” said Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.

The region’s cooperation with businesses and state agencies allows for this economic growth to occur, he noted.

Yi Liu, counselor of the Economic and Commercial Office Consulate General of China in New York, spoke about the improvement in the business relationships between China and the U.S. as a result of bilateral trade relations. Companies such as Fuling Plastics could bring with them Chinese culture and friendship as they open operations in this new location, Liu said.

“You may have a better knowledge of Chinese economy and Chinese companies,” Liu said. “Someday they will become a major supplier of plastics tableware in the U.S.”

The company is one of the few Chinese manufacturing companies to arrive in the region to employ Americans, said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC.

“This is no small relocation,” Cunningham said.

The manufacturer has been operating in China since 1992 and has made a $20 million investment in its new Lehigh Valley location, Cunningham said.

Fuling Plastics is also the largest American supplier of plastics products to restaurants that include McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC, Cunningham said. The company also supplies big retailers such as Walmart and Target, he added.

He described the Fuling Plastics as a “very significant” worldwide manufacturer to a growing economy across the state.

Xin Hu, CEO of Fuling Plastics, developed Taizhou Fuling Plastics Co. Ltd. in China, starting with a small factory with 10 employees to an enterprise of more than 1,200 employees, said Bob Chapleski, vice president of operations for Fuling Plastics USA. Hu also owns many invention patents in the plastic tableware industry, Chapleski said.

Hu’s wife, Guilan Jiang, is the president of Taizhou Fuling Plastics Co.

The company exported $60 million in 2013. All of its products are exported to the U.S., Australia and nations in Europe, South America and the Middle East.

According to a news release, the company has three production operations in China, along with a research and development center. The company also uses a public warehouse in Montgomery County to receive products from overseas and distribute them throughout the U.S.

The company decided to establish a U.S. manufacturing operation because of the increased volume associated with its products and the cost of exporting from China.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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