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Wilbert Plastics goes after aerospace market

By: Frank Antosiewicz

February 26, 2014

There's a growing aerospace presence in the Southeastern United States, and Wilbert Plastic Services wants its heavy gauge thermoforming operations to be part of it.

"We believe in offering value to the aerospace customer — they don't usually get single components, but tend to have subassembly units brought in," said Greg M. Botner, president and CEO of Wilbert, in a telephone interview.

He pointed to a growing presence by both Boeing Co. and Airbus SA in the area, as well as by smaller aeronautics companies. Airbus is building its first U.S. production facility in Mobile, Ala. — a $600 million plant that is slated to be ready for production in 2015.

Wilbert does both thermoforming and injection molding. It has seven manufacturing facilities — both Belmont, N.C., and White Bear Lake, Minn., do thermoforming.

Botner said the variety of processes as well as value-added services like assembly have positioned Wilbert to supply many different industries. Now, after a year-long effort, the company's Belmont facility has AS9100C aerospace certification.

Botner said the company has offered thermoforming since 1965. It has weathered the ups and downs of the industry.

"We are growing in medical equipment and wind energy and our thermoforming is done for some very diverse blue chip companies," he said, noting that Wilbert does work in 12 industries. It has a variety of certifications like ISO9001, ISO14001 and TS16949, which helped prepared the company for the rigors of aerospace work.

"It's just not quality control and record keeping — you have to be certain your operations change to meet certain standards," he said.

Botner said the company has been adapting to the needs of its customers. For example, in the last two years, it added sheet extrusion to the capabilities to the White Bear Lake plant.

Wilbert also does injection molding at five plants: Bellevue, Ohio; Lebanon, KY.; Forest City and Harrisburg, N.C., and Easley, S.C.