By: Catherine Kavanaugh
October 29, 2013
ProFab Plastics Corp. is in the process of moving its headquarters from Waukesha, Wis., to Ocala, Fla., where the precision machining company is adding manufacturing and office space to one of its two facilities there.
The company that started out in 1996 primarily as a parts supplier for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines diversified into aviation and now is looking to make more parts for the aerospace industry.
To boost that end of the business and attract new customers, ProFab invested $1.7 million in equipment during the last three months and plans to spend another $1 million in the next eight months at the Ocala plants, according to President and CEO Keith Hoffmann.
“I’m basically getting rid of the old and bringing in the new,” Hoffmann said in a telephone interview. “I’m ramping up on everything and we now have two pieces of equipment that are automated. We can run lights out, 24/7.”
The new equipment means new opportunities for the company. Hoffmann said he has seen sales double in the last three years to a projected $9 million for 2013. He expects sales to hit $12 million in 2014 and $15 million in 2015.
“We’re still going to do a lot of medical. We’re not decreasing that,” Hoffmann said. “It’s actually increasing but we’ve gone out and got involved with aerospace and higher tech machines.”
ProFab machines plastic and paints, die cuts and assembles parts. The company will get into thermoforming and injection molding next.
“We’re changing to do new things with the technology out there,” Hoffmann said. “We’ve always been a step ahead of everybody else. Now I want to be 10 steps ahead of everybody.”
ProFab is expanding its 30,000-square foot facility at 4901 NW 5th St. in Ocala by 15,000-square feet for mostly manufacturing space and to serve as the HQ. About 2,000-square feet of the addition will be corporate offices. The company also has a 40,000-square foot facility about 7 miles away.
However, the future is uncertain for ProFab’s original 18,000-square foot facility in Waukesha, which at one point had about 70 employees.
“We’ll still have the Wisconsin branch but it will be minimal,” Hoffmann said. “It will be down to like 5-7 people.”
In June, everyone who works there was offered jobs in Florida, Hoffmann said, but family roots are preventing some from relocating. Four employees made the move to date; three managers and four machinists will follow, he said.
ProFab also hired 12 new employees in recent weeks and will bring on another 25 in the next three months. A third shift will be added in early 2014.
“We hope in the next 12-18 months to add 35 employees on top of that,’ Hoffmann said. “By mid 2015 we’ll have 80 total but things could change and we could get bigger than expected. We’ve been doing this for 17 years now. Our capabilities have expanded and there’s a huge market out there for machined plastics and machined components.”
ProFab is in the midst of putting together the right personnel and equipment, including high-speed CNC machines and five-axis machines, to create one of the most technologically advanced plastic machine shops in the United States, Hoffmann added.
“When we came down to Florida we had 13 to 16 machines,” he said. ‘Within the next 8-10 months we’ll have 43 pieces of equipment down there.”