Beach tags a big business in NJ — Take a look inside factory
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Those tags you purchase to access New Jersey's beaches don't just grow on trees.
Someone's got to make them, and New Jersey is home to a facility that churns out more than 3 million tags per year.
Jersey Cape, the largest tag manufacturer in the country, is said to have 98 percent of the market share in the state. The facility also produces tags for customers beyond New Jersey's borders where lake and pool usage comes with a fee.
According to executive director Joseph Sittineri, anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 tags are produced in the facility per day. And there's not much of an off-season; workers are already designing and creating tags for summer 2018.
The introduction of digital equipment a couple years ago has allowed for more design options and opened the door to more business, Sittineri said.
"You were limited to what you could do with the kind of plates that they used for the old equipment. Now with the digital equipment, any image you want to put on a tag, we can do that now," Sittineri said, noting Jersey Cape also receives orders from individuals who may be interested in personalized badges for a beach-themed wedding, for example.
Depending on the size of the order, tags could cost towns as little as 6 cents apiece. The average is 18 cents.
On any given day, 40 to 50 individuals with disabilities are on site to help with the tag-making process. The job-training facility pays them to assist in packaging and delivering, as well as the most common and time-consuming task of inserting a pin into each tag.
"I expect to do 500 to 800 tags a day in here. It all depends on how fast I am," said employee Eileen Sunden, 62, of Wildwood.
Sunden has worked at Jersey Cape for nine years. She hopes to take advantage of the organization's job program and land a job in the medical field.
"What we do as far as creating jobs for individuals and training — that's the most important part," Sittineri said.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.