By: Michael Lauzon
July 24, 2013
Custom injection molder Wright Engineered Plastics Inc. will double its floor space by moving to a different facility to meet expanding orders.
Wright of Santa Rosa, Calif., will move to another facility in Santa Rosa by the end of September, said Wright CEO Barbara Roberts in a telephone interview.
The expansion is sparked “by additional business, increased efficiency and room to allow more expansion,” Roberts explained. Telecommunications and medical are its key markets.
“We have a number of customers that are expanding their operations and are interested in maintaining manufacturing in the U.S., and new customers have decided to bring manufacturing to the U.S.,” Roberts said. “I think many of the [original equipment manufacturers] have discovered the loss of engineering support when manufacturing is moved from being close to R&D efforts. A penny saved on manufacturing overseas is drowned out by the cost of engineering and design changes.”
Aiding Wright’s sales increase is the company’s ability to include assembly with its molding jobs. One such contract is with Opterna, an optical/electronics specialist based in Sterling, Va. Wright molds television set-top boxes for fiber-optic systems. Wright assembles the boxes and threads a delicate fiber-optic line into and through the boxes before shipping them to overseas markets where fiber-optic infrastructure is taking off. Wright was able to land the assembly work because it has experience in optical systems and the capabilities for clean production.
“Now, we’re quoting for molding and assembly,” Roberts said.
Roberts said her company has a Class 10,000 clean room for assembly and a Class 100,000 room for molding. The company recently expanded molding capacity by acquiring new presses and retiring older ones. It now has 15 presses with clamp forces of 30 to 385 tons. The new plant in Santa Rosa has 46,000 square feet and will have room to accommodate three more presses when markets are ready for them, Roberts predicted. High volume resins include polycarbonate and PC/ABS blends.
Wright entered a new phase of growth in 2009 when California Pacific Laboratory Inc. of Novato, Calif., became a customer when it moved parts sourcing from China to the United States. U.S. manufacturing decisions made through reshoring and made-in-the-USA preferences are behind much of Wright’s growth. New medical device customers are an important market segment to the company.
Wright’s customers include General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Dell, JDS Uniphase Corp., Abbot Laboratories and Parker Hannifin.
Wright’s staff has grown to about 120 from 48 four years ago, largely due to more assembly work. Roberts expects the payroll to grow to 160 soon and the firm is adding a third shift to handle even more work.
The 33-year-old business is owned by Roberts and partner Mike Nellis. Roberts declined to provide sales figures.