American Thermoplastic Company is a good example of a smaller binder manufacturer that became successful by finding its own niche in the marketplace. Rather than taking on the giants of the loose-leaf binder industry, American Thermoplastic Company (ATC) developed another strategy. By doing one thing really well, the company has become a leading manufacturer of custom-imprinted binders and related loose-leaf products to business, industrial and educational accounts.
In 1954, Aaron Silberman opened a small company on First Avenue in Pittsburgh to provide local businesses with foil-stamped vinyl products. American Thermoplastic Company's production and office facilities were located on the fifth floor of a small building and Mr. Silberman juggled the duties of president, salesman and production manager. At first, Mr. Silberman purchased blank vinyl products to imprint. He insisted that ATC offer its customers the best quality products, in a timely manner, and decided that the only way to ensure this service was for the company to manufacture the products itself. Heat sealing and screen printing machines were added and ATC was able to offer their customers even more design possibilities.
Mr. Silberman's growth strategy paid off and soon the company moved into a former linoleum warehouse on nearby Second Avenue. Initially, the company only needed two of the seven floors. Eventually the seven-story building was transformed into four floors of production area and three floors of office space.
In the 1960s, the company began marketing its products to college bookstores through a new division called Four Point Products (as in 4.0 QPA). Today binders made by Four Point Products can be found in college bookstores across the United States and Canada.
Mr. Silberman made customer service a major priority and ATC has become a leader in the industry by introducing innovative practices to help their customers. In the late 1970s, the company made a bold commitment to service with the introduction of QuickShip 10™. ATC began an industry revolution by promising customers to produce their custom-imprinted binders and index tab sets in ten working days. At that time most other companies took 4 to 6 weeks to produce an order. ATC has continued and expanded the QuickShip program with QuickShip 6™ and QuickShip 1™. Now ATC is able to send custom-imprinted items in 6 days and stock items can be shipped within 24 hours.
In 1986, Aaron Silberman announced that he was stepping down and his son Steven would succeed him as president and chief operating officer. Under his direction the company has continued to flourish. American Thermoplastic has maintained its outstanding customer service and its commitment to employees. By the mid 1980s, Steve recognized that the growing company needed more space and began looking for a new location.
In 1994, the company's 40th anniversary, ATC moved into a state-of-the-art building in one of Pittsburgh's RIDC (Regional Industrial Development Corporation) Parks. This specially designed and custom built manufacturing plant, warehouse and office facility is larger and much more efficient than the previous location. Equally as important, the new 160,000 square foot building was truly built with employee input.
Not only was this facility designed to be an efficient working space, but a pleasant one, too. It is situated in a private forested area that is on the edge of an industrial park. Many employees enjoy eating lunch in the cafeteria that overlooks the scenery where it is not uncommon to see deer and other wildlife. In building a new workplace, the company made sure that contemporary issues such as childcare were addressed. Steve mandated that a day care center be part of the new facility. American Thermoplastic Company was one of the first for profit companies to offer on-site childcare in southwestern Pennsylvania. ATC is proud to offer employees safe, quality and convenient childcare.
In their quest for quality, ATC has always strived to incorporate the latest technology in the manufacturing process. When the company moved in 1994, they added a screen printing machine that is able to print two-color products in half the time of previous product. In 1998, ATC added four-color digital process printing, a service it calls greATColor®. This service allows them to print on vinyl and a variety of other substrates in full color and smaller quantities. Digital printing has advantages like quick turnaround, while eliminating the time and expense involved in making separations, films and screens. The image can go right from the computer to the press. Another advantage of digital printing is personalization. Customers can design different variations, special messages or personalizations on their products that can change from copy to copy during a print run. ATC has won numerous industry awards for its screen-printing and four-color process printing work.
American Thermoplastic has always recognized the importance of practicing sound environmental policies and encourages its employees, customers and vendors to embrace these values, too. The company began using recycled board to make binders over 30 years ago, long before recycling was popular. ATC has continually increased the amount of recycled vinyl products they offer to customers. While they have developed many internal ways to recycle, ATC wanted to make recycling vinyl binders easier for customers. So in 1991 ATC furthered its commitment to the environment and launched the Environmentally Bound™ program. Customers can send their used vinyl binders back to ATC to be recycled.
Not only is American Thermoplastic committed to protecting the environment but they feel it is important to give back to the community. Aaron Silberman, a musician himself, was very involved in Pittsburgh's cultural scene. He served on the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Symphony, public radio station WQED-FM as well as Allegheny General Hospital. Steve Silberman has continued American Thermoplastic's involvement in cultural and community activities. He is a board member and an officer of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony. Steve has also taken an active leadership role in the Binding Industries Association and other business organizations.
Craftsmanship of American Thermoplastic employees is found in products used in all walks of life. College students in California, market executives on Wall Street and military personnel all over the world use American Thermoplastic products. Hospitals, banks and churches are among the company's many customers. American Thermoplastic is proud to offer customers quality custom loose-leaf products made by employees who take pride in their work while working to protect the environment and help the community.