STRATFORD, Conn. — Some would say the manufacturing industry has vanished from Connecticut’s landscape.
Not so at bustling AptarGroup, an Access Road complex in Stratford churning out the caps and pumps you find on everything from bug spray to Estee Lauder perfume — to the tune of about 2 million units a day.
The company played host to about 50 members of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council on Tuesday, who took morning tours of the sprawling factory floor as part of BRBC’s Meet the Makers manufacturing series.
“Manufacturing is still particularly strong in our region, even though you hear the opposite,” BRBC President Paul Timpanelli told the group.
State Sen. Kevin Kelly agreed, saying that while major firms are no longer fueling the area’s economy, many smaller concerns are doing their part to provide jobs and tax dollars.
“We need to do everything we can to support small business,” he said of Aptar’s 207-strong workforce. “The Bridgeport region has a lot to offer.”
Simply put, Aptar makes “stuff to get things out of bottles,” said Anthony Mancini, director of manufacturing at the Stratford site. The international company creates devices in three areas — beauty and home, the pharmaceutical industry and food and beverage.
From Avon products to toothpaste, “if you look at a bottle and it has a top on it, chances are it came from Aptar,” Mancini said.
Business must be good: In 2013, Aptar created a 45,000-square-foot addition to its existing 138,000 square feet in Stratford, he said.
While the state is not known as the best bargain for manufacturers, Mancini said the company is investing in sustainability efforts, such as LED lighting and a high-tech energy monitoring system, to keep costs low.
One problem all manufacturers face is the aging manufacturing workforce. Aptar has instituted an apprenticeship program to address that.
“We think we can make it work here in Connecticut,” Mancini said.
The company’s many robotic machines and busy employees make it possible for Aptar to work on 30 to 40 different designs of pumps in a single day. Some of the machines are capable of creating as many as 180 parts per minute, Mancini said.
But speed is not the only consideration. Aptar prides itself in providing quality and consistency as well, Mancini said.
“You buy a product and it doesn’t come out. What do you say? ‘I’m not going to buy that product again,’” he said. “Testing is really important.”