NEW PROJECTS FUEL GROWTH AT MOLD ING CORP.

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Molding Corp. of America expanded beyond its Burbank, Calif., facilities last year to accommodate large customer orders for medical home-care and home applicance products.

The firm leased 100,000 square feet in nearby Sun Valley for secondary operations such as pad printing and hot stamping and storage of raw materials and finished goods. Some customers sublease space there for distribution needs.

``Two new projects required large amounts of raw materials and packaging and precipitated this expansion,'' John R. Knight, director of sales and marketing, said in a recent telephone interview.

The medical device, which helps patients' mobility, went into production in August with a ramp-up by October. Production on the home appliance product began in January and, as of April 1, was at two-thirds capacity as the pipeline filled.

Molding Corp. exports about 10 percent of its output, shipping trim products for the automotive aftermarket and nylon 6 bases for swivel chairs to Japan, and urethane wheels for in-line roller skates that are assembled in Hong Kong.

Knight estimated that about 25 percent of production reaches companies that have left California but still retain Molding Corp.'s services.

The custom injection molder makes hardware for telephone cable installations, automotive emission sensors, BMX bicycle wheels and insert molded emergency car keys for automobile manufacturers and AAA of California.

The company operates out of a 112,000-square-foot Burbank facility and a 6,000-square-foot annex.

Molding Corp. operates 55 thermoplastic injection molding machines and two machines that process silicone rubber.

The company replaced two older injection presses with new equipment last year, according to Knight.

The company's annual resin throughput totals about 5 million pounds.

Molding Corp. established an office of the president last year although no one holds the title of president.

Members overseeing routine business activities include Knight; William Reitenbach, director of operations; JoAnne Reitenbach, vice president of finance and administration; and Robert Korer, comptroller.

When necessary, entrepreneur John D. Gilbert, 79, involves himself in key strategic decisions and special projects, but the chairman and major shareholder no longer manages day-to-day activities for the company he founded in 1966.

The company employs 250.For its fiscal year ended June 30, Molding Corp. reported sales of about $22.5 million, roughly the same as for the previous year.