Keter Plastic is setting up a new design center for plastic products, which the company hopes will become an international leader in the field and catapult Israeli designers into the global spotlight.
The center will engage in research, development, design and production of new types of plastic products. Its professional director will be Ezri Tarazi, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and in addition to Keter's veteran designers, it will hire some 40 outstanding graduates of Israeli design schools every year or two. The center will be located in a seaside villa in Herzliya Pituach, with the goal of giving the designers a pleasant working environment.
Part of Keter's senior staff will also relocate to the villa, including owner Sami Sagol, CEO Tal Sander and apparently also the company's financial and operating vice presidents.
Sagol is equipping the center with the very latest technology, and also plans to import leading international designers to give lectures to the local staff. The center's designers will be in constant contact with Keter's factories, which will supply technical support and manufacture prototypes of new products.
All designers hired by the center will have two-year contracts. After that, some will be hired by Keter on a permanent basis, while the rest will have to seek jobs with other companies.
Sources at Keter said that alongside the launch of the design center, Sagol is also planning a major reorganization under which Keter would become a holding company, with each of its plants becoming a separate subsidiary. If that happened, most of Keter's approximately 200 headquarters staff, currently located in Herzliya Pituach, would be dispersed among the newly created subsidiaries.
But a Keter spokesman denied that any such reorganization is being planned.
The sources also said that Sagol is looking to buy new companies to expand Keter's business. Keter is said to be negotiating to purchase Cuver, the European branch of the American firm Rubbermaid. Sagol has in the past acknowledged holding talks with Rubbermaid.
Keter, which makes plastic furniture and other plastic products, will finish this year with sales of over $700 million, of which all but $80 million are exports. The company has 24 factories, half of them in Israel, and employs some 3,000 staff, including some 1,700 in Israel. It is also joint owner, along with David Federmann, of a petrochemicals company that makes raw materials for the plastics industry.