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Stern Assembly moves, adds rotomolding equipment

By: Frank Antosiewicz

November 19, 2012

BRAINERD, MINN. (Nov. 19, 1:15 p.m. ET) — Stern Assembly Inc. is taking steps to handle bigger parts and improve its workflow with a new machine and a move to a 50,000 square foot facility in Brainerd, Minn.

“We’re actually moving to a building that was formerly used by Image Rotomolding,” said Shawn Hunstad, president and owner of Stern Cos. Inc., the parent of Stern Assembly, in a telephone interview.

Hunstad said Stern Assembly moved from an older, larger 90,000 square foot facility in Riverton that is about 10 miles away. The move started in September and the last machine was just fired up Nov. 12.

“It’s very attractive building because it was built for rotomolding. The infrastructure, the ceiling height and everything else is perfectly suitable for what we do,” Hunstad said.

Image Rotomolding Enterprises Inc. had used the building, but that firm was bought out by its customer and moved to Alabama. The building also was later used by wood products maker.

Hunstad said a key consideration is that it is connected to a natural gas line, which he listed as a key challenge in Riverton, where he used propane for the larger machines. It is also roomier in that Riverton had a lot more supporting beams to work around.

Hunstad said the firm also purchased a used Ferry 370 rotomolding machine that is capable of producing 12 foot parts. The older building would not have been able to accommodate its installation.

He expects the new machine to be up and running by mid-January.

“Customers have added larger parts that we are not currently able to do,” he said.

He said the company is experiencing growth via its customers and is also seeing more possibilities in supplying needs to the agricultural market.

The company is running leaner and is using less material more often to adapt to the new space that it occupies. It has also improved its product flow and efficiency.

Hunstad said the newest machine will be its fifth. It has two Ferry clamshell machines — one is a two-arm shuttle and the other an independent four-arm carousel. It also has a REI 120 machine and a Ferry 280.

Stern Assembly has 35 employees and Hunstad said that it will add six to eight more when the new machine is ready.

The company also does assembly of such items as fuel tanks and storage boxes. Customers include Polaris and Arctic Cat.

Stern Cos. Inc. has two subsidiaries: Stern Assembly which includes rotomolding, and Stern Industries Inc., which is a broker of plastic and rubber parts.