COLEBROOK — Thanks to a $300,000 grant from the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, Tillotson Performance Polymers (TPP) will build a second glove-dipping machine, which will create 16 new jobs.
The company will also be positioned to build a third machine, which could bring even more employment opportunities.
On Tuesday, the finance authority announced that it made the award to the town of Colebrook on behalf of the nonprofit Northern Community Investment Corp.
Contingent upon approval of the award by Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council on Sept. 3, the finance authority will loan the money to TPP at 7.25 percent annual interest, said Rick Tillotson, who in 2012 co-founded TPP with Alain Boisvert of Stanstead, Quebec, will use the money to pay for its in-house construction of another glove-dipping machine.
“It’s not a gift,” Tillotson said on Wednesday of the loan, “but it’s very helpful.”
Boisvert and Tillotson appear to be perfect partners.
Boisvert is the owner of Abco, a Stanstead-based manufacturer of rubber seals and parts for the automotive industry in the U.S. and Canada. Tillotson grew up in the polymer industry, and his late father, Neil, was one of its creators.
In 1931, Neil Tillotson invented the latex balloon; the invention of the rubber-coated work glove followed in 1946; rubber-backed broadloom carpet in 1956; latex examination gloves in 1964; and, in 1990, the disposable nitrile glove.
Worldwide, the disposable, nitrile-glove industry is valued in the tens of billions of dollars annually, and TPP hopes to tap into that market, which includes giant clients such as the U.S. Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.
“We’re looking to have three glove machines operating by the end of 2015, and that will produce approximately 150 million gloves per year,” said Tillotson, adding that while “it’s a lot of gloves,” the number is modest given overall worldwide production.
TPP currently manufactures polymer balloons and eyedroppers in a 20,000-square-foot space in a 103,000-square-foot building it owns on a 15-acre lot in the Colebrook Industrial Park. The company has seven employees now, and as a condition of the CDFA grant, it has to add 16 additional jobs for low-to-moderate income persons within 18 months.
Tillotson said that as the second glove-dipping machine comes on line, TPP will also continue to partner with the Great North Woods Association for the Blind.
“Our crew has been building it,” Tillotson said of that machine, adding, with some discernible pride, that “we build all of our own equipment. Tillotson companies have always built their own manufacturing equipment.”
He said the first machine is nearly finished and that work on the second will start sometime in November. “If we are operating the two glove machines,” said Tillotson, “we will have enough cash flow coming in to build the third one.”
Finance authority spokesman Kevin Flynn called TPP “a heritage business in the North Country and an important employer in Colebrook. This partnership will help the company increase its output, bringing quality full-time jobs to the community.”
As TPP repays its loan, that money will go into a revolving loan pool dedicated to further regional economic development, said Flynn.
The Tillotson family has directly and indirectly been a major contributor to North Country economic development since 1954 when Neil Tillotson bought the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel out of bankruptcy and later built a rubber-products manufacturing plant, albeit surreptitiously, on the sprawling Balsams property in Dixville Notch.
The Balsams closed in 2010, as did the rubber plant, but the Tillotson name remains strong and well-known through Rick Tillotson, who lives in Colebrook and is a member of the Coos County Planning Board, and through the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, which annually supports numerous philanthropic efforts in Colebrook, Pittsburg, Clarksville, Stewartstown, Dixville Notch and other towns in Coos County and bordering communities in Vermont and Quebec.
Rick Tillotson said he and Boisvert still have 70,00 square feet of space left in their Colebrook plant that they’d be happy to lease to other manufacturers, noting that whether by recruitment or through a grant, “It’s all about getting jobs back to this micro-economic region of Colebrook.”