Ray Confer was born in 1922 in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. His family moved when he was young, finding their new home in the Niagara region of Upstate New York. Ray served in the Second World War and upon his return took a job with Norton Laboratories in Lockport, NY where he dabbled in plastics chemistry and product design during what were the formative years of the plastics industry.
In the 1950’s, the hard-working man achieved one of his life’s dreams, buying a farm in Gasport, NY.
Ray tended the farm on the nights and weekends (with help of his wife, Gladys, and children Sharon and Doug) while working at Norton Labs during the day. It was this farm that allowed him to save enough money to achieve an even bigger dream that he had — the American Dream of owning and operating a business.
Ray dreamed of having his own plastics factory where he could develop new plastics applications and turn his ideas into products, while helping others to do the same, bringing to fruition their own American Dream. So, in the mid-1960’s Ray put down his savings – and leveraged his home and farm – towards the purchase of plastics molding equipment. Renting space behind a small machine shop in North Tonawanda, NY he and his business partner, Pete Schurman, created a small company called Air Mold where they further developed blow molding technologies. A few years later, Ray and a couple of associates operated another firm, Air Lock Plastics in Tonawanda.
During the 1960’s, Ray’s ingenious mind spawned many inventions now taken for granted in the plastics industry, such as the living hinge (used on millions of tool cases the world over) and portable mold temperature regulators. He also assisted in development of the elaborate parison-draping process.
In the early 1970’s Ray decided to go out on his own. He and his son Doug, fresh out of college, founded Confer Plastics, Inc. on January 22nd, 1973. Doug also invented an everyday item – the flexible fuel funnel that can be found in almost every garage.
From 1973 to 1986 the company could be found in the Roblin Steel complex in North Tonawanda where we manufactured a wide variety of proprietary and custom goods from swimming pool ladders to terrariums to piggy banks.
In 1986 we moved down the road to our current location at the corner of the Witmer and River Roads in North Tonawanda. Since then, we’ve expanded that manufacturing complex on three occasions, adding space for more – and larger – machinery, assembly operations and warehousing. In 2005 we purchased a second facility just minutes away in Niagara Falls. That building is our warehousing and distribution center.
Ray Confer passed away in 1999, but the company has grown at a consistent and successful pace under the watchful eye of Doug Confer. A company that was built by family lives by family, and that is the culture at Confer Plastics, one instilled into all of our people by Doug. Everyone is treated like a part of family, be they coworkers, suppliers, or customers. Our hands-on ownership and hands-on management show that we believe in respecting others and having others respect us. You can see that vividly in the number of employees who have worked at Confer Plastics for twenty years or more (30 employees and growing!) or the number of customers who have been with us for decades.
The family atmosphere will continue into eternity at the company. Bob Confer, Doug’s son, started working at the company in 1993 as a machine operator during the winter and summer breaks while at college. He became a full-time employee in 1996 and in the years since he has learned the ropes at the company (he is now the vice-president). Bob shares Doug’s strong family values (he still lives on the Confer farm!) and he has surrounded himself with like-minded peers in management who share his youthful drive and respect for everyone they work with and work for.
Confer Plastics is a perfect representation of the American Dream. It’s a successful business that was founded by a man who, with his son, had the aspirations to bring an idea to life and the work ethic and intelligence to make it work. It’s a dream that he shared with his son and one that he shared with his.
Become a part of the Confer Plastics family… we can help make your idea, your American Dream, become a reality.