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Molex opens expanded tooling operation in China

By: Rebecca Kanthor
PLASTICS NEWS CORRESPONDENT

January 27, 2014

Molex Inc., a major producer of plastic components for the electronics market, has expanded its global tooling capabilities with the opening of a 200,000-square-foot facility at its Chengdu hi-tech development zone facility in China on Jan. 16.

The Lisle, Ill.-based company said the automated plant has capabilities to make precision molds and dies. The tooling center will serve Molex plants around the world as well as the company's Chengdu facility. Construction began in late last year, Molex told Plastics News.

Molex's Chengdu facility is its largest global operation, with 1 million square feet. Molex opened operations in Chengdu in 2005.

To date, Molex has invested more than $160 million in its Chengdu operations. Each year, Molex Chengdu produces more than 1 billion parts for applications in automotive, commercial, information technology, mobile and telecommunications industries. Its big clients produce consumer products, such as Samsung, Apple and domestic giant Huawei.

Martin Slark, Molex CEO said in a news release: "We are continuing our investment in Chengdu, which is an emerging economic hub in China." He added, "This high-tech facility expands our ability to serve our global customers with the highly-engineered tools that are critical for manufacturing the innovative interconnect solutions our customers require."

Joe Nelligan, senior vice president of the company's commercial products division, said in the release that the Chengdu tooling center will give the company a competitive advantage.

"The sophisticated capabilities that this advanced tooling center offers gives Molex a versatile, global resource that will help us bring new products to market faster and quickly respond to customer needs," Nelligan said. "It will nearly triple our tooling capacity here and create new highly-skilled jobs."

Michael Ma, of Molex's Shanghai office said, "That is some good news to the local labor market as we will hire more people with higher skills. Molex attaches great importance to employee training so we will definitely do it in two ways — we will hire higher skilled people in the market but also enhance our training to our technical staff."

Molex, which was acquired by industrial industries conglomerate Koch Industries Inc. for $7.2 billion in December, posted sales of just over $3.6 billion in its fiscal 2013, which ended June 30. That total was just about 4 percent from the previous year. The company's fiscal 2013 profit of just under $244 million was down almost 14 percent in the same comparison.

Molex operates 45 manufacturing sites in 17 countries and employs more than 35,000 worldwide. Including the Chengdu facility, the company has seven production facilities in Greater China: five in mainland China and two in Taiwan. More than 70 percent of the firm's sales are generated from products sold outside of the United States.