MCLANE BUYS 2,000-TON INJECTION PRESS: MACHINE IS 15TH FOR FAMILY-RUN FIRM

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PALM SPRINGS, CALIF. — Injection molder McLane Leisure Products Inc. will begin making chaise lounges and large citrus bins this fall on a new, 2,000-ton press, its 15th from Liang Hung Industrial Co. Ltd.

``We are principally in the resin patio furniture business and supply mass merchandisers such as Home Depot,'' President Ron McLane, 54, said in an interview in an office adjacent to the company's manufacturing plant and retail showroom.

His father, Frank McLane, 81, chairman and chief executive officer, designs and creates several styles of patio chairs and tables that can flex without breaking. Most of resin is 12-melt homopolymer polypropylene.

At present, the molder operates 14 presses, with clamping forces of 200-1,600 tons. Liang Hung of Yung-Kang City, Taiwan, makes the molds, and Tenso Machinery Industry Co. Ltd. of Taichung, Taiwan, supplies the robotics.

Taiwan native Joseph Chen is McLane's general manager, overseeing operations and equipment issues.

``We have slow, long cycles,'' Chuck Banas, production manager, said in explaining the process.

One of the three 1,350-ton presses has a shot capacity of 40 pounds, and four machines have clamping forces of 650 tons. The 2,000-ton version will cost about $600,000.

McLane moves the largest molds with overhead cranes and stores resins in six outside silos, each with a capacity of 65,000 pounds.

Marco Color Laboratory Inc. of Hawthorne, Calif., supplies most of the additives for nine colors in the McLane lines.

The McLane plant occupies 67,500 square feet and the showroom, 12,500, on almost 5 acres.

Business conditions will dictate the timing of an expansion. Plans call for a 61,250-square-foot warehouse and more injection molding space on a 31/2-acre site that is adjacent to existing facilities.

The company invested in, and has sold, additional Palm Springs land that others have developed, and continues to own a nearby 20-acre parcel with industrial potential.

McLane's proprietary products sell principally in the West and Southwest, with outlets of Atlanta-based Home Depot accounting for about 75 percent of the company's sales.

On a job-shop basis, the firm makes and exports fold-up orange crates that go to New Zealand, and other products including patio furniture that reach Japan, Russia and China.

McLane makes component parts for lawn edgers and mowers and, in particular, molds grass catchers under its name and as private label products for divisions of Sears Roebuck & Co. and Deere & Co.

In a historical connection, in 1947, Frank McLane and his brother, Jim, started McLane Manufacturing Co., a Paramount, Calif., lawn mower company that primarily uses metal stamping equipment.

Jim McLane continues to operate that business.

Frank McLane formed the injection molding business in 1991 with his son Ron and a daughter, operating initially in Paramount. In 1993, the molding operation build a facility and relocated to Palm Springs.

``Frank McLane has brought an added dimension to our community,'' said John Tuite, Palm Springs economic development director.

``In a way, we've all become students and admirers. He is our greatest salesman.''

McLane Leisure Products employs 55 and generally has limited hiring despite growth. The company had 1996 sales of more than $5 million, up from the previous year's $3.9 million.

``We've gotten more efficient,'' Ron McLane said. ``Our production has gone up.''