Defying imagination: Reynolds Polymer builds awareness of unique operations

Work continues on an acrylic tunnel under construction at Reynolds Polymer Technology in Grand Junction. The company manufactures a variety of products for aquariums, swimming pools and architectural features. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Work continues on an acrylic tunnel under construction at Reynolds Polymer Technology in Grand Junction. The company manufactures a variety of products for aquariums, swimming pools and architectural features. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

From its nondescript exterior, the building housing Reynolds Polymer Technolgy doesn’t appear extraordinary  — a large manufacturing facility by Grand Junction standards, perhaps, but nothing special. The inside tells a far different story. That’s where executives with the company say dreams come true.

Workers construct and polish the massive acrylic panels used to create towering aquariums, a swimming pool spanning two buildings and a thousand other projects that defy imagination.

“We do some amazing things that nobody else does,” says Paul Gardner, vice president of engineering.

Yet, many of the people who live in the Grand Valley remain unaware of Reynolds Polymer — or the employment opportunities a growing operation has created.

That’s changing, though, as Reynolds Polymer works to build local awareness and recruit applicants. The company recently hosted an event in which it opened its facility to public tours for the first time.

“We want to show the community who we are, what we do and what a cool place it is,” says Bart Baker, vice president of global operations.

For more than 30 years, Reynolds Polymer has supplied engineered acrylic and polymer material products for a variety of applications — aquariums, zoo exhibits, swimming pools, architectural features, signs and scientific equipment. The company has been involved in a total of nearly 2,000 projects in 57 countries.

Baker says components for aquariums and swimming pools remain the best-selling products for the company, accounting for about 80 percent of revenue.

Reynolds Polymer has been involved in constructing some of the largest aquariums in the world. That includes the AquaDom in a Berlin hotel complex that’s more than 50-feet tall and 36 feet in diameter and an even taller aquarium in the Avia Park shopping mall in Moscow that’s 75-feet tall and 20-feet in diameter. A curving underwater tunnel in the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in China extends 68 feet.

Construction is under way on the Sky Pool in London, a transparent swimming pool that will span two, 10-story residential buildings. The pool will be more than 80 feet long and 16 feet wide and enable residents to swim from one building to the next.

Gardner says a project at the Changi Airport in Singapore will funnel rainwater collected on a roof to create the tallest indoor waterfall in the world.

The growing popularity of acrylics for other applications diversifies business for Reynolds Polymer, Baker says, and soon should account for a larger proportion of revenue.

Gardner says Reynolds Polymer supplies signs for Apple Stores. The company also  supplied the components of a massive underground vessel at a laboratory in Canada set up to study neutrinos, subatomic particles. Baker says still other uses are under development in the medical field.

Baker estimates business has increased four-fold since 1994. “It’s been really busy the last two or three years. This next year looks promising.”

Work tends to shift among various regions of the world along with changing economic conditions. Work has increased in the United States in recent years, Gardner says. “The U.S. market has picked up a lot.”

Staffing has increased along with business. About 100 employees work at the Grand Junction facility. The company has 18 job openings and more are planned, Baker says. There are opportunities to work not only in Grand Junction, but around the world in installing and maintaining projects in which Reynolds Polymer is involved.

Gardner says work at Reynolds Polymer is creative, challenging and ultimately rewarding. For inside that nondescript building, dreams come true.