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Injection molder River Bend taking on Thermold Magazines work

By: Frank Antosiewicz

September 11, 2013

North Carolina-based Thermold Magazines Inc., a maker of gun magazines and accessories, is moving its headquarters and production to the confines of River Bend Industries LLC in Fort Smith, Ark.

The combined effort will add 65 jobs and require an investment over $7 million, according to an announcement from Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe.

River Bend will take over molding and assembly of Thermold's products, while Thermold will continue to offer sales and service.

"We worked with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Governor, and will partner with a company that is already established and we think will do a good jobs with the manufacturing," said Sylvan Bednar, president of Thermold Magazines, in a telephone interview.

Bednar said the location will allow the firm to ship to any North American customer within two days. He said the company will receive various tax incentives, and that officials are preparing to build what essentially is a factory within a factory.

"Literally, today is our jumping off point," he said, noting that preparations for the move are currently underway.

Bednar was unsure how many workers would make the move to Arkansas and said details are still being worked out. He said the company had a similar factory-within-a-factory setup in North Carolina, but did not elaborate.

Thermold was started in the 1960s as an injection molder to serve the automobile industry. Its founder, William Howard, was a big game hunter, and the company developed a nylon magazine that resisted heat and corrosion. Today the products are used by the military, law enforcement and sportsmen.

"It is a really good move for River Bend, Thermold and the local area," said Ron Embree, president and CEO of River Bend.

Embree said working with Thermold will give River Bend a new market to serve. Although, the company has not made the magazines before, it has experience with the materials and the technologies involved.

River Bend has 85 employees in Fort Smith. It runs 48 injection molding machines and two blow molding machines. Overall, it runs 108 presses at three facilities — two in Fort Smith and one in Victor, Iowa.

The company had been hurt a few years ago when manufacturers like Whirlpool Corp. and Fortis Plastics LLC closed nearby facilities. River Bend recovered by going after new business, most notably the Kosmo Cooler, a cooler with metal legs that can be used for athletic events, camping and construction sites.