Texas Saddlebags Inc. doesn't sound like an injection molding company, but the 9-year-old Arlington, Texas, maker of storage consoles for cars and trucks has decided to expand into custom molding. In August, Texas Saddlebags brought its molding in-house with four Mitsubishi-MJ series presses with clamping forces of 210-610 tons. The company bought the equipment to solve quality and scheduling problems it had experienced with its custom molders.
Rusty Scott, molding manager for Texas Saddlebags, said lack of product once shut down the company for two days.
``It was difficult to communicate with our molders and coordinate the schedule,'' he said.
Two brothers founded the company in 1986 after one created a better way to organize clutter in cars and trucks. One brother, Rex Smith, is now president of the business, which makes 12 models of consoles to fit most U.S. and Japanese cars, trucks and minivans. The company would not disclose its annual sales.
Texas Saddlebags' consoles hold everything from drink cups, audio tapes and spare change, to an optional ice bucket in one model. Two of its newest models include a ``super console'' for minivans, and a model for most full-size cars and trucks that has room for a six-pack.
The console parts are molded primarily of ABS and polypropylene, with the substructure components molded using high-impact polystyrene with a blowing agent. The substructure gets a padded vinyl covering, available in a variety of colors.
The company recently opened its molding division to outside customers for custom molding.
``We have very state-of-the-art, efficient equipment and our industry is cyclic,'' said Scott. ``We have an average of about 30-35 percent capacity, which allows us to do custom molding.''
When asked about whether custom molding customers might be reluctant to place work in a mostly proprietary molding operation where in-house products might take precedence over outside work, Scott said the company has addressed those issues.
``Our molding operations are based on the fact that we come from that type of problem,'' Scott said. ``We know the frustration of conflicting schedules and not being able to get parts, which is why we started molding ourselves.''
Scott said that as the company's internal demand goes up, it will outsource its own products and keep the custom work in-house.
``We're trying to establish a year-round customer base,'' Scott said. ``We'll service the outside customer base first and do what we have to do internally to make the rest happen.''
Texas Saddlebags operates from a 70,000-square-foot facility and employs 100 during its peak times.