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Mayhew adds plastics to fold

John Lawless, president of Mayhew Steel, in the company’s Airport Industrial Park location.  
Recorder/Paul Franz

John Lawless, president of Mayhew Steel, in the company’s Airport Industrial Park location. Recorder/Paul Franz

TURNERS FALLS — After buying a neighboring factory and land in the Turners Falls Airport Industrial Park this winter, Mayhew Steel Products has purchased Basque Plastics, a Leominster-based plastics injection molder that will make components for Mayhew Tools.

John Lawless, president of Mayhew Steel Products, said the sale “will help Mayhew continue its growth as a manufacturer of high quality hand tools ... as well as allowing Basque to explore new markets in the plastics industry.”

The Basque Plastics factory, which was sold Friday, will be renamed Mayhew Basque Plastics. Mayhew plans to keep the factory running with its current staff in Leominster, to produce plastic handles for the tools made by the Turners Falls factory.

Lawless called the new business “an excellent strategic fit.” He hopes the purchase will help Mayhew expand in the hand-tools market and explore new markets in the plastics industry.

Mayhew Basque Plastics will be managed by Cliff and Greg Basque, who have over 30 years’ experience managing the plastics company. Basque Plastics occupies a 30,000-square-foot building in the Jytek Industrial Park with 17 molding machines ranging in size from 75 tons to 400 tons. Lawless plans to add two more molding machines capable of producing parts used by Mayhew and other manufacturers, and to keep the company in the current Leominster building — about three buildings down from where the Rugg Manufacturing Co., formerly of Greenfield, has relocated.

The plastics company acquisition will help Mayhew reduce lead times, inventory costs, and bring items currently sourced overseas back to the United States, according to Lawless.

Lawless said he doesn’t foresee hiring more plastics workers this year, but may have more jobs as the company expands and grows. He said it’s possible that Mayhew’s newest building in the Turners industrial park might be used for plastics molding sometime in the distant future.

However, Mayhew has experienced a big upturn in business recently, and Deerfield Packaging Service is currently hiring workers for its Turners Falls plant, says Lawless. Deerfield Packaging Service is a separate company formed by the Lawless family in 2002, which runs the Turners Falls facilities. Currently, Deerfield Packaging has between 45 to 50 employees, and Mayhew Tools has about 20.

Mayhew Steel Products Inc. makes Mayhew Tools as well as other private brands around the world. The 158-year-old manufacturer began in Shelburne Falls in 1856.

Mayhew built its manufacturing center in the Turners industrial park in 2001 and purchased the former Turbosteam LLC property, which includes 12 acres and 87,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehouse and office space. Lawless said Mayhew is now installing some new machines in the newly acquired Turners facility. When that installation is complete, Mayhew plans to close its old Shelburne Falls factory, built around 1910, in late spring or early summer.

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