Ohio molder Thogus moves across street

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By midsummer, custom injection molder Thogus Products Co. intends to move across the street into new quarters in Avon Lake, Ohio.

Thogus is investing more than $4 million to buy 40 acres and construct and outfit a 75,000-square-foot facility with a movable back wall for expansion, said Matt Hlavin, vice president of sales. Construction started in October, and officials expect to move from their 56,000-square-foot site around the end of July.

``We have been growing at a 25 percent to 30 percent clip over three years,'' Hlavin said. ``We are up 42 percent for the first three months'' of 2006. Much of the growth involves converting parts from metal to plastic.

Diversification has reduced Thogus' reliance on automotive products and the company's initial product line of proprietary plastic tube fittings, adapters, elbows, tees and connectors. Automotive accounted for one-half of the business in 1997.

Now, Thogus is growing in medical, industrial and heavy-truck markets with no single niche accounting for more than 10 percent of the business. In addition, Thogus focuses on small-batch jobs using engineering thermoplastics and avoids high-volume runs using commodity resins.

Working with smaller batches brings a need for more setups per shift. ``We may change over three times a day,'' Hlavin said.

Thogus employs 75, operates 31 Nissei and Toshiba presses with 25-400 tons of clamping force and had 2005 sales of $12 million, up from the previous year's $10 million.

Thogus said it may acquire as many as six injection molding presses this year. Three may replace existing units.

Hlavin represents the company's third generation of family management. His mother, Kathleen Hlavin, is Thogus president and a co-owner with her mother, Helen Thompson. Thogus Products started operating in 1958.