New plastics manufacturing plant opens in Belleville, Illinois


It’s a reality in the utility industry: Birds like to sit on poles, insulators, switches, and fuse boxes, and while they sit they usually poo.

This is not a joke.

Birds, squirrels and other wildlife often cause serious damage to equipment and result in higher costs for electrical and telecommunications companies, according to industry experts.

“Feces can destroy wood in utility poles from the inside to the outside,” said John Sova, director of operations for Tailor-made coating innovations.

The Lebanon-based company makes “wildlife mitigation blankets” from plastisol – a tough plastic-like material – to help protect utility equipment. He ships them all over the United States.

The business is now moving to Belleville.

CCI recently purchased the former Belleville News-Democrat printing house at 11 Premier Drive near Mascoutah Avenue for approximately $ 680,000. It converts the 35,000 square foot complex into a new factory and a new head office.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a manufacturing operation 24 hours a day, five days a week,” Sova said.

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Lebanon-based Custom Coating Innovations is moving its manufacturing facility to a 35,000 square foot complex in the Belle Valley Industrial Park that it bought last month from Belleville News-Democrat. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

$ 1.5 million investment

Belleville City Council signed a development agreement with CCI on August 16. The city will provide $ 75,000 in tax increase fundraising in two installments as an economic incentive.

In return, CCI agreed to invest $ 1.5 million in purchasing and renovating the resort on Premier Drive by May 1, 2022; retain its current 14 employees and add at least two full-time positions in its first year of operation and two more in its second year.

“Custom Coating Innovations, Inc. and all heirs and / or successors must remain and operate on the site for at least five (5) years,” states the agreement.

CCI closed the sale of the property on August 19.

Since then, Sova has been cleaning and preparing the complex with the help of Comco Products consultant Matt Hancock, who specializes in manufacturing and contract sourcing. Both previously worked in the plastics division of the ROHO Group in Belleville.

CCI’s business has grown significantly in recent years, leading it to surpass its current 15,000 square foot headquarters off Commerce Drive in Lebanon, according to Sova.

“The reason we wanted to locate here in Belleville is because it’s a strategic location close to our material suppliers,” Hancock said.

CCI is known to be one of the first companies to produce utility equipment covers in neon orange – in addition to gray and black – to prevent helicopters from hitting utility poles.

The company has also developed a “ZEROflame” technology which melts plastisol instead of burning it. It has caught the attention of utility companies in California and other states where wildfires have burned millions of acres in recent years.

“It’s a big reason why business (CCI) is exploding,” Hancock said. “A lot of their products are exported to the West. “

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Custom Coating Innovations, which is moving from Lebanon to Belleville, manufactures plastisol covers that prevent birds, squirrels and other wildlife from damaging utility equipment. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

Location of the industrial park

The concrete block complex on Premier Drive is part of the Belle Valley Industrial Park, between the offices of Belleville Mechanical and a local 101 plumber and pipe fitter training center.

BND built the complex in 1983 to house its printing and packaging operations. He transferred them to the Kansas City Star, a sister publication, three years ago, while continuing to use the old printing press as a transportation and distribution hub.

“Today the newspaper is printed in Peoria and trucked back to St. Clair County for delivery to local customers,” said Jeffry Couch, editor and general manager. “BND’s transmission and distribution operations have recently been moved to a site leased from O’Fallon.”

The Behrman family founded the industrial park in the late 1970s, according to Wayne Barber, who has been selling his land for about 20 years. He co-owner of BarberMurphy, a commercial real estate brokerage firm in Shiloh.

The industrial park has grown over the years and now covers over 200 acres. Barber estimates that it is home to 30 companies.

“We had about 30 lots and we sold them all over time,” Barber said. “Right now what we have is an undeveloped phase 3 area, which consists of 124 acres.

“In phase 2, there was a joint effort with the city to build roads and streets. Phase 3 has no roads or utilities, but utilities run up to the property.

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Custom Coating Innovations will manufacture utility equipment covers in this room, which measures 110 by 40 feet with a ceiling of 34 feet high. It used to house the Belleville News-Democrat printing press. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

Christian school neighbor

The industrial park is just southeast of the former Belle Valley School South on Mascoutah Avenue. District 119 moved out of this building in 2012 and moved the students to a new campus.

An organization known as Korea International Christian School English Corp. purchased the building and approximately 20 acres in 2018. She started a major renovation project last year.

Belleville Christian School opened on Aug. 23 with 21 students, four teachers and four staff, according to Reverend John Chung, who is its principal.

“I almost cried,” he says. “This is the moment I have been waiting for since I arrived here last year on January 5th.”

Sova and Hancock hope to complete Custom Coating Innovations’ move to Belleville by the end of the year.

Manufacturing of its utility equipment covers will take place in a room that once housed BND’s impressive printing press. It measures 110 by 40 feet with a ceiling 34 feet high.

The company plans to set up a machine shop to meet its goal of producing dip-molded samples in two weeks when customers request custom covers. It will also bring a shredder to allow the shredding and reuse of certain materials for environmental purposes.

“One thing I want to emphasize is that we are proud that our products are made in the USA,” Sova said.

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Custom Coating Innovations, based in Lebanon, has developed “ZEROflame” technology which melts the lids of its utility equipment instead of burning them when exposed to forest fires. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

Teri Maddox has been a journalist for 36 years, joining the Belleville News-Democrat in 1990. She also teaches journalism at St. Louis Community College in Forest Park. She graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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