Louis H. Pfohl was an engineer, lawyer, architect and designer. In 1930s, he invented a means to shape plastic called “Thermoforming” and started a company named “Plaxall”. At end of 1940s, he purchased a property in Flushing and built a state-of-the-art plastics factory. Shortly after the factory was constructed, however, he opened a newspaper to discover that Robert Moses would be condemning the factory land and surrounding area for a housing project. He was devastated and had to look for a new space.
In retrospect the condemnation turned out to be a blessing. In searching for a new location, he visited Long Island City and was taken with the proximity to mid-town Manhattan and the numerous transportation options. He had a vision that Long Island City would one day become integral to New York City’s continued growth. So in 1950 he purchased a property on 46th Avenue in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City. Plaxall has operated a factory at this same location now for over 50 years. In addition to the factory operations, Louis Pfohl also started a business of purchasing and renovating older properties in the area.
Louis Pfohl’s son, James Pfohl (a Harvard Law Graduate and former Marine), assisted in running the factory and managing the properties and took over after Louis Pfohl passed away in 1986. Louis Pfohl’s daughters also played roles in the business: Ann Pfohl Kirby, one of the first female graduates of Harvard Law School, helped on the business side; and Lynn Pfohl Quigley, a graduate of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, helped on the architectural side.
Plaxall has long been an active member of the community. Over the years, Plaxall has employed a large number of people and provided space for many local businesses. In the early 80s, Plaxall developed Hunters Point Plaza, one of the first modern office buildings on the south end of Jackson Avenue and, for a time, the tallest building in the neighborhood. Plaxall has provided space for local community groups, including LIC Boathouse, Recycle-a-Bicycle and Art-O-Mat. Through the Mathis Pfohl Foundation, Plaxall has provided grants to numerous community groups, including religious organizations, arts institutions, settlement houses and other neighborhood organizations.
A third generation of the Pfohl family now helps manage the business and hopes to continue the tradition.