Facility employed up to 120 at peak, 36 at the time of the closure

CLOVERDALE -- A 40,000-square-foot plastics plant that Perler Beads, a toy company that started in a Santa Rosa garage, started closing in mid-June.

The company, which moved to a site just south of Cloverdale in 1993, employed 70 to 120 people over the years at the plant, according to Peter Schnack, company founder. His wife, D.D. Quinn-Schnack, and he sold the company in 1997 and have been leasing the facility to the company since.

"They had people who had been working there for almost 20 years," Mr. Schnack said.

The last pieces of machinery left the plant in mid-June, he said. The plant officially closed July 7, according to a spokeswoman for Wilton Brands, a Chicago-area crafts conglomerate that owns a number of brands, including Perler.

"It's always difficult when people are affected by a decision and we want to thank all employees for their hard work to make Perler what it is today, said spokeswoman Nancy Siler. "Wilton has a severance program in place for the 36 employees impacted by this decision."

Warehouse and business support functions have been consolidated and moved to company facilities in Illinois, and manufacturing is being outsourced, according to Ms. Siler.  Product development and design will continue to be conducted at the EK Success Brands division headquarters in Clifton, N.J.

Product availability and distribution won't be affected, she said.

The Schnacks designed Perler Beads to teach creativity, color recognition and hand-eye coordination to children starting at age 3. The plant was set up with plastics processing, injection molding and extrusion equipment to make the plastic beads in 58 colors.

The founders sold the company to Dimensions Holdings, a Pennsylvania-based crafts company. In the past decade, Dimensions and Perler passed to various owners.

In 2007, Dimensions was part of a multiple-entity merger with crafts conglomerate Wilton Industries. The same year, as Wilton Brands, the operation launched the Martha Stewart Crafts line of products.

Two years later, affiliates of TowerBrook Capital Partners and Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas became majority owners of Wilton in a recapitalization agreement. That ended an involuntary Bankruptcy Court reorganization petition.

While raising three children, the Schnacks started Perler Beads in their garage. A year and a half later, the business moved to an 800-square-foot warehouse on Yolanda Avenue in Santa Rosa, expanding to 1,700 square feet in Industry West Industrial Park in the same city and then 40,000 square feet there.

At that point, the building in Asti, on the road to the Cloverdale Airport, was purchased and restored for the expansion move.

The Schnacks have brought in Keegan & Coppin commercial real estate agent Russ Mayer to market the building at an asking rent of 39 cents a square foot per month. The 5.7-acre property has expired Sonoma County Design Review Board approvals for a second building of 36,700 square feet to be built on the Highway 101 frontage location.

For more information on the property, visit www.astibuilding.com or call Mr. Mayer at 707-664-1400.