Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has convinced toy producer Enor Corp. to expand U.S. production at the expense of sourcing from China.
Enor plans to set up a large toy production factory in Fairfield County, S.C., to help satiate Wal-Mart’s thirst for U.S.-made products. Enor, based in Northvale, N.J., has supplied the retail giant with toys for more than 15 years and so has been sensitive to Wal-Mart’s desire to sell more U.S.-made goods.
Enor’s plans were simultaneously announced on Aug. 14 in South Carolina and in Denver, where Wal-Mart was hosting its second annual U.S. Manufacturing Summit for its global suppliers.
“We will start limited production in September and reach full production [in Fairfield County] within 9 months to a year,” said Enor CEO Steven Udwin in an Aug. 20 phone interview. The company will locate in a 78,000-square-foot facility that was a former golf-cart distribution center in Winnsboro, S.C.
“Today’s announcement represents our life-changing commitment to manufacture exclusively in the U.S.,” Udwin announced at the Wal-Mart summit.
Udwin told Plastics News that production will gradually be pulled from China in favor of South Carolina. Some labor-intensive work will be the last jobs relocated to the United States. Enor also will shift toy production from its New Jersey headquarters to Winnsboro. The Northvale plant will keep about a third of its business, which is focused on making multimedia packaging, Enor’s other major market.
The Winnsboro plant will employ about 150 and will represent a multimillion dollar investment when it is running at full speed, Udwin said. Enor also hopes to get into custom injection molding in Winnsboro, supplying components to other Wal-Mart suppliers that want to boost U.S. content. Enor has a head start for such business because it is a certified supplier to Wal-Mart, Udwin explained.
Enor injection and blow molds a wide variety of toys and play items. A short list of its plastics lineup includes games and play equipment such as rackets, balls, baseball bats and bowling pins. It is the largest U.S. producer of hollow plastic balls used in play pits. The blow molded balls are now made in Northvale but the work will be moved to Winnsboro.
Winnsboro will contain a mix of new injection molding and blow molding equipment as well as relocated machinery from Northvale. Udwin said Enor’s injection molding capabilities will be expanded by installation of a new 1,100 ton press. The large tonnage is needed for big toys like winter sleds. Toy production is a seasonal business with output matching play demands in indoor and outdoor settings.
Enor will shift toy production from China without interrupting supply. While current toy lines get established in Winnsboro the company’s new toy development and manufacturing will all occur in the United States.
Enor is a 35-year-old firm owned by the Udwin family. Its early history is dominated by media packaging. It began toy production 15 years ago, partly at the request of retailers that were selling its packaging such as photo sleeves.
Wal-Mart’s Made in the USA push is the elephant in the room when it comes to reshoring U.S. manufacturing. The Bentonville, Ark., retailer is advertising its U.S. products push and meeting with manufacturing companies in a range of forums to explain its strategy.
Another toy company also made public its attendance at Wal-Mart’s recent summit in Denver. Rodon Group boasts its K’Nex Brands construction toys are already U.S.-made, in Hatfield, Pa. Rodon calculates it has molded 32 billion K’Nex toy bricks, rods and connectors in Hatfield since 1992, many of which were sold through Wal-Mart.
Enor’s Udwin said his firm’s plans were catalyzed by Wal-Mart but its effects will be felt among Enor’s broader customer base, which includes Toys R Us and other major children’s stores.
Enor chose South Carolina because it is a good place to do business, Udwin said. Governments are eager to attract business and the strong technical education infrastructure helps train future plastics operators.