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Leading Israeli custom injection and compression molder Technoplast Industries Ltd. is investing almost $10 million to expand capacity by 50 percent in the next two years.

Technoplast, a manufacturer of hardware products, packaging and electrical and telecommunications components, and packaging, will spend nearly $1 million of that sum to add injection molding presses and auxiliary equipment to its 50 existing molding machines.

The family-held firm is headed by Chief Executive Officer Itamar Patishi, a retired Israeli Air Force combat pilot. At three plants covering a total of 32,500 square feet, the company operates 46 injection presses with clamping forces of 25-1,400 tons, and four thermoset compression machines of 80-250 tons. It also has a coating line.

Technoplast expects to place orders for an unspecified number of new injection presses with 100-1,600 tons of clamping force, in the next six to 12 months, according to Baruch Zekaria, the firm's London-based business development manager. The machines mainly will come from German and Italian suppliers, he said. The company already operates Sandretto presses.

About 80 percent of the company's sales come from exports. The firm invested about $10 million last year to open, with government grant assistance, its third molding plant at Migdal Ha'Emeq, near Galilee, Israel.

Technoplast's latest expansion, most of which will take place at the 18,525-square-foot Migdal Ha'Emeq unit, is in line with its growth strategy. It aims to broaden its customer base in key market sectors in Israel, Europe and North America and develop its own proprietary product lines.

Zekaria said part of the new expansion will take place at Technoplast's 12,350-square-foot Barkan plant on Israel's West Bank. The firm plans to move its head office from Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, to newly acquired space at Barkan later this year.

Technoplast recently got the go-ahead for its Migdal Ha'Emeq expansion from the Israeli Investment Centre. The agreement allows it a tax exemption for a period of 10 years. However, the firm must implement 20 percent of its planned investment by Feb. 20, and complete the expansion the following year.

The company also will receive an Israeli government grant, once it has invested $967,000 earmarked for purchasing the presses and other equipment.

Funds for the overall expansion project are being raised through a share offering on the London Stock Exchange. The company first sold shares on the exchange in mid-February, raising 12 million (US$19.4 million).

Technoplast continues to rely on a fruitful relationship with the Israeli firm ZAG Ltd., a manufacturer of products for export to U.S. stores including Home Depot, Sears and Wal-Mart, as well as other chains in the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. In the first six months of last year, ZAG business represented 70 percent of Technoplast sales.

Technoplast reported 1995 sales of $15 million, while in the first nine months of last year the company reported sales totaling $13.8 million and profit of $1.95 million.