A steady stream of tiny plastic pellets that resembled couscous flowed from five train cars into a factory in an industrial area of Halethorpe Thursday morning.
Once inside Goodwrappers, a 35-year-old company that has called its facility on Halethorpe Farms Road home since 1992, the pellets will be melted into molten plastic and turned into disposable wrapping material.
David Parry, 47, the company's vice president of marketing, declined to disclose the amount of wrap the company produces.
But, he said, the $5 million industrial revenue bond it recently applied for from Baltimore County would allow greater production in its nearly 60,000-square-foot facility.
Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the 1st District, which includes Halethorpe, said he expects the County Council to approve the authorization of the bonds at the council session on Sept. 4.
"We're spending a lot of time in Lansdowne and Halethorpe to help the industrial-based manufacturing down there," Quirk said.
If the council authorizes the bonds, Baltimore County would not have any financial liability, said Fronda Cohen, a spokeswoman for the county's Department of Economic Development.
"It's going to help them be more competitive, going to help the business area down there," Quirk said.
Another Halethorpe company, Alberee Products, received an industrial revenue bond last winter at a rate of 4 percent.
"There is a concentration in the Halethorpe area," Cohen said of where in the county the bonds are most often used.
Because that area of Halethorpe has such a strong manufacturing presence, it makes the bonds popular with the businesses there, Cohen said.
Baltimore County can issue industrial revenue bonds up to $10 million for manufacturing companies to use to finance the acquisition of facilities, land and equipment.
Because industrial revenue bonds are exempt from federal and Maryland income tax, they have lower interest rates than conventional loans.
Cohen said the interest rates differ for every bond and can vary from day to day.
Goodwrappers would use the bond to purchase new equipment, including an extruder that produces the plastic sheeting, Parry said.
Atop the company's current extruder, a 7-year-old machine at least 12 feet tall, are two containers filled with plastic pellets that are converted into stretch film up to 100 inches wide.
With the addition of the new equipment, the company could add a half dozen employees in the short term, Parry said.
Parry said the company got its start by being the first to offer a completely self-contained and disposable hand wrapping material.
"We're manufacturing all aspects of the product except the box," he said as he walked the warehouse floor.
That includes the plastic hand braking system at either side of the stretch film that allows those who use the product to more efficiently wrap packages while protecting their hands from friction heat, Parry said.
Stretch film, Parry explained, is similar to shrink wrap but doesn't require heat to constrict and is more elastic.
While the current stretch film is smooth on its spool, the company's first products were airy and wrinkled, he said.
The company started taking root in 1997 in a residential Woodlawn basement of Parry's father, John Parry, who died in 2000.
Beatrice Parry, David Parry's mother, is the current president of the company.
David Parry recalled cutting pieces of pool tubing in the living room to serve as the hand brake on either side of the plastic wrap as he showed off one of the first pieces of stretch film the company produced.
Over the decades, the company grew so it can no longer fit in a basement.
The company sells its products to distributors across the United States, Parry said.
He declined to identify the four other countries where Goodwrappers also sends its products.
While Goodwrappers is not "the biggest player in the market," according to Parry, it enjoys the "niche" it occupies in the market.
It relies on its innovation to set it apart, Parry said.
For example, in the 1980s, the company became the first to offer narrow-width stretch film.
Later, it became the first to offer printed messages on the stretch film.
For the past year, the company has offered stretch film that biodegrades within 12 to 24 months, Parry said.
Examples of innovation and expansion can also be found in other parts of the Halethorpe industrial area on Hollins Ferry Road, Quirk said.
The first-term councilman offered as examples Bakery Express, Clipper City Brewing Company and Alberee Savers, all of which call the stretch of road near the exit to the Baltimore Beltway home.
"This is an exciting time from a revitalization point in that area," Quirk said.
"We're seeing big success," he said. "Success is building on success, too."