NETSTAL-MACHINERY MOVING HEADQUARTERS

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Moving injection press supplier Netstal-Machinery Inc. into a new headquarters is the first major task facing Werner Christinger, Netstal's new president.

Christinger also revealed that Netstal wants to boost North American sales of PET preform injection molding systems.

Christinger was named president effective Oct. 1. He replaces longtime President Barry Potter, who resigned. Potter founded Netstal-Machinery in 1982 as the U.S. headquarters of injection molding machine maker Netstal-Maschinen AG of NÄfels, Switzerland.

Netstal announced plans for its move from Fitchburg, Mass., its home since 1988, to about 10 miles east to Fort Devens, Mass., at the same time the firm named Christinger its new leader.

In Fort Devens, Netstal and its 34 employees will be housed at a 25,000-square-foot facility in Devens Technology Center, a former military base converted to a business center. Netstal's offices will move to the new facility in early March. The machinery demonstration operation will open in Fort Devens in July.

Christinger, 57, had retired from a long career at Becton Dickinson Corp., when Netstal came calling. He had started his own consulting company in plastics product design and processing after retiring in 1994 as vice president for process development from the huge medical products maker in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

Christinger, who is from Switzerland, said Becton Dickinson ``bought a lot of Netstal machines'' through the years. His first contact with Netstal was in 1959.

``Obviously they knew me and they contacted me. I was not looking for a job,'' he said.

The move to Fort Devens comes as Netstal is getting out of the injection molding business. Netstal machinery sales and service had shared the Fitchburg building with Netstal's compact disc jewel box molding business, Optima Precision Inc. Potter had founded Optima years ago to demonstrate Netstal machines, but Optima kept getting bigger and became a major molding operation.

In May, Netstal sold the jewel box operation — and the entire 70,000-square-foot Fitchburg facility — to Shape Global Technology Inc. of Biddeford, Maine.

Now Netstal can focus on one thing: selling machines.

``Our focus is going to be to increase our sales in standard injection molding machines, in our segment, which is the high-precision, high-volume market,'' Christinger said. ``We will continue, of course, in the CD business, and we will establish a larger base on the PET machines.''

PET preform machines is a market dominated by Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. of Bolton, Ontario.

Christinger said Netstal established itself as a preform-press supplier in Europe, but only has one U.S. installation. The firm now offers 48-cavity preform molds, but plans to introduce higher-cavitation molds, he said.

In his 30-year career, Christinger began as a mold designer and ended up a top executive at Becton Dickinson, a firm that today does $2.5 billion in sales.

Christinger's career has combined technical and management skills. His first position was as a mold designer and customer service person at Shottli Tool Works in Diessenhofen, Switzerland.

``As part of my assignment at Shottli, I helped to set up a custom molder in Ireland molding for Becton Dickinson,'' he said.