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Formation Plastics expands to house new thermoformer

By: Frank Antosiewicz

February 26, 2014

Formation Plastics Inc. needed a bigger building to handle a 3-stage Lamco 9-foot-by-13-foot thermoformer that it was reconstructing, and responded by purchasing a 32,000-square-foot facility to house it.

The Quinter, Kan.-based company, according to general manager Brad Lovelady, went looking for more space after purchasing the thermoformer about a year ago. There was no space for the machine in the company's existing 12,000 square foot building. So, now between the two buildings, Formation has room to grow.

Lovelady said, in a Feb. 5 telephone interview, that the newly rebuilt machine had produced its first parts, five-piece grain box covers. They used 3/8-inch ABS sheets and were shipped to a customer in England.

"When we bought it, all the wiring had been stolen and it was in Phoenix — we had to retrofit and rebuild the entire machine — it took about a year," Lovelady said.

It took five trucks to get the machine's parts to Kansas. The machine originally was custom-made for its owner. Now, it had to be rewired, a two-piece carousel shaft built, new engineering done and new programs written.

"We didn't know if we'd get it to run," admitted Lovelady.

However, now it stands about two stories tall and takes up about an eighth of the new building. He said the 9-by-13 format gives Formation much more range than it had in the past.

The new building also includes an 8,000-square-foot mold and pattern shop.

Formation's original building contains three formers with the largest able to handle 4-by-6-foot pieces. It also has 3 computer numerically controlled routers. The company has a strong design team, Lovelady said — Formation can take a design drawn on a napkin and come up with a prototype in six to eight weeks.

The company has emerged from some tough times after a man was accidently killed during the cleaning of a machine in 2011.

OSHA had levied $217,000 in fines, but the fine was lowered to $25,000. The company has added a safety officer and instituted stricter safety procedures, training and controls.

Formation was started by owner Galen Huffman 21 years ago, and he built most of the machinery.

Lovelady said Formation has worked a lot of different projects — ranging from agricultural parts to hospital bed covers, plane parts and custom van components.

Formation does have five patents and is working on a patent-pending line of pet caskets, which can be decorated, or have the look of brushed metal or wood, or can be decorated — for example, a camouflaged product could be used for a hunting dog. Other proprietary products include slide vault boxes for indoor use and pond covers.