Business

Minkus well schooled in plastics trade

The Bainbridge crew of International Plastics perch on some plastic sheeting in their new warehouse space off Sportsman Club Road. (From left) Ken Minkus, Nick Harvey, Heidi Frohning, Jeff Bruchs, Nancy Minkus. - ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo
The Bainbridge crew of International Plastics perch on some plastic sheeting in their new warehouse space off Sportsman Club Road. (From left) Ken Minkus, Nick Harvey, Heidi Frohning, Jeff Bruchs, Nancy Minkus.
— image credit: ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo

More than most men, Ken Minkus has reason to say, “Hooray for Hollywood.”

It’s not just that a 1967 film enshrined the phrase, “one word...just one word: plastics” in the American consciousness – two years after Minkus himself entered the family business. (“We are the original ‘Graduate,’” he likes to joke.)

Minkus can also be grateful that his father, a pioneer in plastics distribution, built his California business on supplying the cartoon industry with the acetate cells used in animation.

Other animation technologies have long since superceded the inking and painting of plastic film, but Minkus, co-owner of Bainbridge-based International Plastics, continues to take the family calling in new directions.

“There have been subtle improvements over the years,” says the 58-year-old Minkus, “but essentially we are selling the same plastics that we sold 30 years ago.

“What has changed is the number of applications.”

For the businesses that International Plastics supplies, these range from bulletproof visors to durable prosthetic limbs, fire-resistant walling to super-slippery flooring for ice rinks – anything made from “film, sheet, rod and tube,” the four staple forms of the product.

“There are so many crazy uses for plastics,” says Minkus. “We’ve sold our products to prisons, where the prisoners use it to make three-ring binders.”

Despite a downturn after Sept. 11, business has been brisk, Minkus says. The company, which boasts five employees on the island and another three at a California warehouse, is on track to break $2.5 million in revenue this year.

He credits much of this expansion to the firm’s superior customer service, and its strong presence on the internet – the domain of yet another family member, son Jeff Bruchs, the company’s sales manager.

Their success has led the company, founded in 1990 by Minkus and his wife Nancy, the firm’s CFO, to relocate from its Ericksen Avenue offices to a warehouse space near the Bainbridge Disposal building off Sportsman Club Road.

The move, which expands the company headquarters to include a product distribution center, is designed to take advantage of the company’s unique position in the West Sound.

“It’s just a good opportunity to be the only plastics distributor over here,” Minkus said.

Although his family and business roots are in the San Fernando Valley, Minkus says that he wouldn’t consider living or running a company anywhere but Bainbridge.

“We love the small-town atmosphere, and there is just enough to do here,” he said. “Plus, it is much friendlier than L.A.

“Right now I live about a mile and a half from the office, and that about the right distance for me.”

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