Castino Corp. doesn't just want to get bigger, the Michigan molder also wants to widen its reach. Next month, Castino will break ground for a plant in Walnut Ridge, Ark., where it will start out molding polyurethane parts for the automotive market. But the custom molder plans to add other plastic products to that operation, said Robert Castino, owner and president.
The 25,000-square-foot plant, Castino's second, will cost the company ``upwards of $2 million,'' Castino said by phone from Romulus, Mich. That investment also will cover six new presses, with clamping forces from 400 tons down, which he expects to be running later this year, he said. The city of Walnut Ridge and the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission are helping to finance the project with a $1.5 million tax-free bond.
The Arkansas site gives the firm better access to demand for plastic products in the South, including Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas. Because there are fewer producers of PU parts, those customers are willing to buy outside their own region, Castino said. But other customers for plastic parts want their suppliers nearby, he said. So the company, which had considered growing its home base, opted to branch out, establishing two - and, in time, three - regional plants at 25,000 square feet apiece, he said.
Although ``a little more expensive'' now, he said, ``over the long run, for a small company,it's a little more economical.''
As for a third plant, Castino said: ``My guess is four years or so. When we begin to get saturated between the two plants, then we'll consider a third location.''
The Walnut Ridge plant, which sits on five acres in an industrial park, has been designed to accommodate at least 17 presses, mirroring the Romulus operation, Castino said. It will hire 15-20 workers initially, and employ 50 within three or four years.
At Romulus, Castino operates 17 presses, with 30-400 tons of clamping force, and employs about 50.
Its custom molding business is about 60 percent automotive - such as bearings, bushings, grommets and steering linkage parts -for original equipment manufacturers and the aftermarket; and 30 percent for markets including office furniture and forklifts and ear identification tags for farm animals.
The firm works mainly with PU, but its strategy is to keep expanding its other plastic offerings.