FLORENCE, KY. — Recession? What recession?
Attendance was up by about 50 percent compared with last year at KraussMaffei Corp.’s recent open house in Florence, where the company shows off its machinery.
And those who were asked said they continue to be optimistic about the economy and business these days.
About 300 folks from all over the country showed up at the event that also showcased not only KraussMaffei machinery, but also goods — think molds and auxiliary equipment, for example — from companies that work closely with the company.
Think of it as a mini trade show on the KraussMaffei’s floor, with folks talking a whole lot about plastics.
KraussMaffei holds these kind of get-togethers when business is good.
And business, these days, is good, President Paul Caprio said.
“We see the manufacturing market on fire in the U.S., in Canada and Mexico, primarily driven by automotive. But with the unemployment rate going down, with more people spending their money, it hits all parts of the economy,” Caprio said while taking a break from the open house.
And when people are buying more cars and houses and do-hickeys made from plastic, companies are buying equipment from KraussMaffei to make the pieces and parts and pipe and such to make those cars and houses and thingamajigs.
“We’re continuing to see the market red-hot,” Caprio said.
Both Rudi Petrovic and Steve Szydlowski made the trip to Northern Kentucky for MGS Mfg. Group Inc., and had set up shop behind a table full of items showing off the company’s injection molding capabilities.
“We see 2014 as really a continuation of ongoing expansion in the business in general,” Szydlowski said. “We have, probably, a six-month backlog, so we have a feeling that 2014 is going to continue to be strong. We have no reason to believe it’s going to be anything other than that.”
Petrovic, who is vice president of sales for the Germantown, Wis.-based company, sees a general enthusiasm in the plastics industry.
“Everybody’s upbeat. Everybody seems to be in a growth mode. People are buying machinery,” he said as folks milled around the open house.
A few tables down the aisle stood Cliff Drake with his display of mold and die change systems for EAS Mold & Die Change Systems Inc. of Menomonee Falls, Wis.
“The industry is fairly active for us. A great deal of our business is automotive related,” he said. So as long as the automotive industry remains strong, he said there will be work for his company.
“I think we’ll continue to be fairly strong. I don’t know if we’re going to grow more, but it’s going to continue to be very active,” Drake said.
Michael Bloomhuff has been president of Single Temperature Controls Inc. since 2008, when he started the U.S. arm of the Single Temperiertechnik GmbH of Germany.
The maker of liquid temperature control units, called thermolaters, is seeing strong business these days particularly with units being sold to mold high-temperature resins. Single’s units are used to control the temperature of molds.
“Right now, from what I see in automotive, from what I see in medical, from what I see in composites, it’s all positive,” Bloomhuff said.
A lot of the growth his Charlotte, N.C.-based company is seeing is due to the increasing demand for thin wall and lighter weight products, he said.
Single Temperature Controls has grown to seven employees in the United States after starting out as a one-man show in a spare bedroom six years ago.
Bloomhuff’s enthusiasm also is not just limited to 2015.
“Certainly ’15 looks promising, ’16 does, too. I think momentum looks strong. I’m encouraged by the next couple of years,” Bloomhuff said.
For KraussMaffei, 2013 was a record year for business, and the president expects that to be again the case for this year.
“We expect that it’s going to continue. And I would say we already see that 2015 will continue that pace, so we are super optimistic,” he said.