Custom injection molder Fabrik Industries Inc. of McHenry, Ill., added 14 new presses in 1994 and has even greater plans for expansion, according to founder and owner Seth Wagner. The latest expansion brings to 47 the number of injection molding presses the company operates in its 90,000 square feet of floor space. The work force also expanded in 1994, with the hiring of 32 people. Some 225 now work for the company.
Fabrik (pronounced fa-BREEK) moved to its current location in McHenry in June 1993, initially with 60,000 square feet. A year later it doubled that space, but leased half of it out. Wagner said that leased area is the first place the company will expand. It also holds an option on six acres nearby.
Wagner would not discuss sales figures for Fabrik, a privately held, family-owned company.
Fabrik primarily serves first-tier automotive suppliers, with 85 percent of its business in the automotive industry. Wagner is most proud of Fabrik's in-house coordinate measuring equipment for its product line, which includes multifunction switch gear and ignition switches.
``This is really important when you're manufacturing the most difficult mechanical parts, to the decorative parts that the customer sees, where texture and finish are all-important,'' he said.
Fabrik employs three measurement specialists to maintain consistent and fine tolerances.
Further, ``Our [computer-aided design] systems are tied in to those of our largest customers. We talk by modem and by the relaying of disk data from the onset of design to completion of production,'' he said.
``Our greatest asset is our engineering ability and the length of time our people [have been] in the engineering field.''
With a background in plastics tooling and engineering, Wagner spent 18 years with one plastics injection molding company before forming his own firm.
He began in 1979 with threepresses in a shop in Algonquin, Ill., northeast of Chicago and 10 miles south of his McHenry site.
Wagner was searching for a name for his firm when it came to him while reading a magazine.
``Fabrik is German for factory,'' he said. ``I am German by ancestry; I was taught by a German. I was looking at German machinery in a magazine and thought, why not?
``My purpose was to provide an engineering facility for the automotive industry,'' he said. ``As we went along, we looked for continuity of operation.''
Toward that goal of continuity, all of the company's 47 presses are manufactured by Engel, which allows some interchangeability of parts and simplifies training.
Some 33 of Fabrik's presses are horizontal, with clamping forces of 55-400 tons. The firm added eight horizontal machines in 1994. The remaining vertical machines have similar clamping forces, said sales manager James Mollendorf.