Confer Plastics and the American Dream

Ray Confer during World War II

Ray Confer During World War II

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: 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.  

In the 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.

Confer Skyview Clean.jpg

Arial View of the Plant

During that decade, Ray’s ingenious mind spawned many inventions and processes 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 the development of the elaborate parison-draping process.

In the early 1970s 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.

From 1973 to 1986 the company could be found in the Roblin Steel complex in North Tonawanda. 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 assembly operations, warehousing, and more and larger machines; our blow molding machines are now among the largest in the world. In 2005 we purchased a second facility just minutes away in Niagara Falls. That building is used primarily for warehousing and distribution.

download.jpg
3 Generations of Confer

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 the family, be they coworkers, suppliers, customers, or the community at large.  Our hands-on ownership and character-driven management style show that we believe in respecting others and having others respect us. You can see that in the number of employees who have worked at Confer Plastics for twenty years or more (39 people and counting!) or the number of customers who have been with us for decades.

The family atmosphere at Confer Plastics will continue well into the future. Bob Confer, Doug’s son, started working at the company in 1993 and Doug’s daughter Connie joined the team in 1999. They share Doug’s family values and they have surrounded themselves with like-minded peers in management.  

Confer Plastics is a perfect representation of the American Dream. It’s a successful business that was founded by men who had the aspirations to bring ideas to life and the work ethic and intelligence to make it work. Their dream is one shared by generations of the Confer family. It’s also a dream that we always use to help our coworkers, customers, consumers, and communities live theirs.