Eck Plastic Arts has been producing the final pieces to other manufacturers’ puzzles for several decades. Originally founded in 1946, Bob Eck began by manufacturing decorative etched glass cubes, but three years later found himself producing the parts other companies needed to make their products whole.
In 1949, Eck Plastic Arts shifted their production to custom plastic parts for original equipment manufacturers (OEM), or to the layman, making the custom plastic pieces that populate the assembly lines for clients such as Raymond Corporation, BAE Systems and more.
Fast forward over sixty years and Eck Plastic Arts is still producing high-quality plastics parts, but now under new leadership. In the summer of 2016, Brett Pennefeather took over the role of President of Eck Plastic Arts when Bob Eck was ready to retire and he and his family purchased the company.
A Broome County native, and alumni of Johnson City High School, after spending time away from home at Ithaca College studying Business Administration and then working in Boston, Brett knew he wanted to return to Broome and have an impact on the community that shaped him.
Eck Plastic Arts primarily focuses on creating the industrial parts needed by its partners to put together the machines that help us work better, such as Raymond’s forklifts, the green transportation systems that connect us to our community with BAE’s electric hybrid bus systems, and much more. In 2018, Eck Plastic Arts was deservedly recognized by BAE Systems, deemed a 2018 BAE Supplier of the Year for their work on the hybrid busses.
While Eck Plastic Arts has the capacity and desire to expand into producing customer products as well, for now their main focus is on supplying their OEM customers. In 2019, be it through injection molding, vacuum forming, custom plastic sheet fabrication, which are three of their main operations, Eck Plastic Arts produced 1.3 million parts. Eck Plastic Arts has grown from a fourteen-person team, to twenty three and counting under Brett, and between their six injection molding machines, two vacuum forming, a CNC plastic router, pad printer, 3D printer, and more, Eck Plastic Arts has everything they need to make the parts your business may need.
The team at Eck Plastic Arts prides itself on the fact that it makes and ships each plastic part exactly to order, and while filling the client’s needs, Brett Pennefeather has also made it a priority to take care of his employees’ needs. When he took over the company in 2016, Brett wanted to boost moral and make genuine connections with his team. Prior to COVID-19, he had introduced company lunches twice a month, and now while his team may not be able to sit together and enjoy a meal due to COVID-19 regulations, he has still found other ways to lift their spirits, such as inviting ice cream trucks to visit the facility.
For Brett, it is all about promoting a healthy and happy workplace culture. Living and working in Broome County has an entirely different feel to it than living in a large metro area such as New York City. “We are within driving distance of some of the most exciting cities to visit and largest markets, five hours from Boston or D.C., four from Baltimore, three from Philadelphia. Yet, we are far enough away where my employees are able to buy their own homes.”
Strategically, Eck Plastic Arts, thanks to their location, is able to service their customers better while maintaining a large market to pull from for business; plus, this way, he and his employees are able to enjoy a higher quality of life without breaking the bank. With competitive wages paired with the beautiful surroundings of Broome County, it is obvious for the employees at Eck Plastic Arts that a good life is a choice.
Brett personally returned to Broome because his roots were here, and he knew firsthand that Broome County is a beautiful place to raise a family. He, his parents, and grandparents were all raised here in Broome County. Like many others in the business community, Brett wants to see the area grow and give back in any way possible, working with the United Way of Broome County, the Greater Binghamton Chamber’s Government Relations Committee, and now COVID-19 relief.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided Eck Plastic Arts the opportunity to partner with community based non-profit Association for Vision Rehab (AVRE). Eck Plastic Arts was deemed an essential business and remained in operation throughout the pandemic. Brett wanted to take advantage of the fact that he and his team were able to keep working and do everything he could to help put things at ease, so production efforts shifted to make face shields for frontline medical workers. Eck Plastic Arts cuts the plastic pieces and AVRE assembles the shields and delivers them to area hospitals; through this partnership, Brett says they have been able to produce tens of thousands of face shields for frontline workers.
“If this place starts to grow, it will be better for everybody. My roots are here, and the County is always bending over backwards to help us, so I want to do the same.” To Brett, a good life is about balance. Finding a place to call home, where you can enjoy the work that you do, but also immerse yourself in a community that is thriving, gives back, and cares. For him, that culture is why Broome is good.
Eck Plastic Arts is a proud part of the Made in Broome Program and is one
reason why #BroomeisGood.