Ontario military shipping crate manufacturer keen on growth following tribal investment
ONTARIO >> A local manufacturer of fiberglass shipping crates for military weapons is hoping to double in size and output over the next decade. The owners also want to leverage its status as a minority-owned business.
PRC Composites, which has been in Ontario since 2008 and began in Santa Fe Springs in 1973, has grown to about 120 employees, many of them first- and second-generation Mexican-Americans.
“Our whole intention with this is to grow,” said Gene Gregory, president of PRC Composite. “We’ve grown about 10 percent in the last year and our game plan is over the next five to seven years, we’d like to double in size.”
The recent acquisition of a majority stake by a partnership of the Rincon and Colusa Indian tribes provides PRC with a “minority-owned” business designation that could lead to more contracts, Gregory said, through government incentives for clients such as rebates and help client companies like Boeing fulfill mandates to work with minority-owned companies.
“With Boeing, we should be able to go to Boeing and say we’re Native American-owned and that should give us an advantage of quoting new work,” said Mike Marvin, marketing director for PRC Composites. “So far we haven’t connected with the right people with Boeing to pass that word down to their purchasing people. They can get a 5 percent rebate on every invoice that we invoice to Boeing for these products. That’s cash back to Boeing and not a penny back to us.”
Gregory was keen on Monday to talk to Rep. Norma Torres, D-Ontario, who represents Ontario, Pomona, Chino and Fontana. Torres visited the plant Monday to find out more about the facility. Torres is a member of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs.
“She’s on the Indian affairs subcommittee and I think for her, to recognize that in her district she’s got a government contractor and a (minority-owned) business, we want to see if maybe there are any opportunities we’re missing,” Gregory said. “The government has incentive to do business with (minority-owned) businesses and to help grow minority businesses.”
Torres, who was taken on a tour of the plant, said she came to hear more about the company’s expansion plans and the ability to get more contracts for the region.
“That means more jobs here, which is the next conversation I want to have with them about training opportunities for their workforce,” Torres said.
She said in California most Native American tribes have been very successful with the casino industry.
“You’re not thinking of (Native American tribes) when you think of government contracts for our national security,” Torres said. “You’re not thinking about the types of materials that they’re manufacturing here, and I think it’s a good opportunity to take this model to other Native American tribes in the state.”
PRC, which originally stood for Plastics Research Corp., was established in 1973 to fill the need for a company that could utilize advances in plastics technology to produce large, special-purpose, lightweight and cost-effective shipping and storage containers for military and commercial customers.
“We just want to introduce our business to our local congresswoman,” Gregory said. “We’re here in her backyard and we want to show her what we’re doing.”
The company says it has developed more than 100 types of containers and has produced more than 250,000.
The containers are used by the Marines to hold weapons, ammunition and tents. General Atomics, which makes the Predator drone, uses PRC fiberglass containers to ship its product to the Air Force. PRC containers are also used to ship Joint Direct Attack Munition smart-bomb tail fins to the battlefields of Afghanistan. Other PRC contracts include containers that ship airline engine parts from California to Paris for use in the manufacturing of the Airbus A350 aircraft.