Bace Manufacturing Inc.'s new Canadian subsidiary, SPM Calgary Inc., this month added its 23rd injection molding machine, and its investment in equipment and a new, 78,000-square-foot facility has reached about $6 million, nearly $1 million more than first budgeted. SPM Calgary began operating in September molding telephone parts for Northern Telecom Ltd.'s Calgary, Alberta, plant, and has grown into a comprehensive mold services shop, according to the firm's president, Andre Leblanc.
Leblanc said SPM Calgary mainly was slated to mold phone parts after Northern Telecom closed its London, Ontario, telephone operation, but the subsidiary now also does mold design and manufacturing and assembly for the telecommunications giant.
Bace has charged Leblanc to expand SPM Calgary's Canadian customer base, which he is trying to do in negotiations with undisclosed companies.
``We expect to employ more than 200 people by the end of the year,'' he said in a recent telephone interview.
The company now employs about 135.
Increased local competition does not phase cross-town custom molding rival Amptech Corp., said Geoff Shorten, Amptech's general manager of operations.
``If anything, competition is good and puts us in a good light,'' Shorten said. ``SPM-Calgary has not had much of an impact on us. Our volume of work with Northern Telecom continues to go up.''
SPM Calgary may have enough presses to take on extra molding jobs because automation can free up machine time, Shorten said.
The Calgary plant is running three shifts, seven days a week, mainly on just-in-time Northern Telecom work.
Leblanc said the facility has enough room to accommodate seven more injection presses if needed.
SPM Calgary's presses have clamping forces of 28-610 tons. It purchased 17 of them, mainly Toshiba and Arburg presses, and sourced six, including a 460-ton vertical HPM for molding phone handsets, from Northern Telecom's London operation.
The company recently began molding parts for Northern Telecom's new Millennium pay phones, a job that includes molding fluoropolymer-filled resin for the internal coin validation mechanism. Volumes in this job are modest - typically 40,000 units per year, said Northern Telecom engineer Eric Foster - but the components offer high added value, according to Leblanc.
Foster said engineering plastics account for about 10 percent of the Millennium's 50-pound weight. They reduce weight and are used in critical internal components where metals' electromagnetic properties are a drawback.
Leblanc formerly was general manager and vice president of sheet extruder GM Plastics, a division of Hamelin Group Inc. in Montreal.
Bace, headquartered in Anaheim, Calif., also established a new custom molding operation in Houston last year to be close to Compaq Computer Corp.