A St. Louis-based dip molder is spending $7.5 million to build and equip a 125,000-square-foot facility in Arnold, Mo. Sinclair & Rush Inc. is transfer-ring its dip molding operations from two separate St. Louis sites to the new plant, and expects production to be under way there by early August, said Frank Forst, president and chief operating officer. The investment includes $700,000 for seven new dip molding machines, giving the company a total of 24 machines at the Arnold plant when it opens, he said. The machines, which are totally automated, are capable of increasing capacity of industrial molded products by 50 percent, he said. The plant will employ 175.
Another $1.5 million is slated for the firm's other processes: injection molding and plastic and foam-rubber extrusion. A separate plant, in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, houses that equipment - 10 extruders and five presses, with clamping forces of 75-350 tons, Forst said. He would not disclose the number of workers at the plant. The company employs close to 325 worldwide.
The dip molder is expanding to meet ``great demand'' for its products during the past three years, Forst said.
This year's sales will reach more than $40 million - roughly $30 million in dip molded, $8 million in extruded and $2 million in injection molded products, Forst said. Its business is a mix of proprietary, stock and custom applications. The company claims to be the world's largest dip molder of vinyl plastisol products.
``It's a much larger company than $40 million ... because of what we're doing globally,'' he said.
Forst touts the firm's five marketing units as the driving force of its global growth. They were formed in 1989, as the heart of the company's expansion strategy. Each unit is its own nucleus, having its own identity, profit and loss statement and sales manager - a player who holds ``a lot of power in this company,'' Forst said.
Three of the units are industrial divisions that sell mainly to original equipment manufacturers; two produce consumer products.
The company makes protective closures under the StockCap trademark, for industrial applications that cross all markets. One of the unit's customers is Japanese-based auto parts supplier Nippondenso Co. Ltd., Forst said. The caps are dip molded, extruded and injection molded.
GripWorks makes dip molded, injection molded and extruded foam hand grips for tools, bicycles and exercise equipment, among other items.
VisiPak extrudes clear tubular packaging for a wide range of industrial and retail products, from bearings and automotive equipment to candy canes.
The company's proprietary line of golf accessories, CastleBay, includes dip molded, rubberized PVC golf club covers, and shaft protectors.
Another proprietary line, Sundance, consists of insulated beverageware, such as foam-wrapped sports bottles and can holders. The line is sold through distributors, and to retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Kmart, according to company literature.
Marketing heads marry products with processes to develop new applications, and new markets within their groups.
``To sell the product, you have to know where and how it can be used,'' he said.
Citing the many uses of its StockCap closures, he said: ``That cap can be used in a thousand applications. It's up to us to determine what they are.''
The new plant can be expanded by 35,000 square feet, Forst said. The firm's two existing dip molding plants in St. Louis, comprising a total of 70,000 square feet, will close.
The company also runs dip molding operations in Los Angeles; Sydney, Australia; and Maidstone, England. Sales offices in Japan, France and Mexico give it even greater thrust into the global market. Currently international sales make up 14 percent of its total business, with the rest coming from the United States. But Forst said he expects that international share to grow to 30 percent by the year 2000.
The firm is committed to being vertically integrated. It builds its own molds and compounds its own materials - 900,000 pounds in May alone, a company record, Forst said. By year's end it will have mixed 9 million pounds of plastisol. With a list of more than 50 specialized formulas, in-house compounding gives Sinclair & Rush ``a tremendous advantage'' over competitors, he said. Secondary services include full imprinting, such as silk-screen and pad printing; and, it can ``slice, punch, slit and everything else you'd want to do with plastic parts.''
Until recently, Sinclair & Rush made its own dip molding machines. But, since March 1993, the firm has worked with an unnamed supplier to design and develop the machines, he said.
The firm is named for the two engineers who founded it as a dip molder in 1949, George Sinclair and Wayne Rush. In 1978 Vincent Gorguze and John Henry bought Sinclair & Rush for an undisclosed price, and soon began adding processes and products to the company's offerings. Gorguze, Henry and Forst own the firm. Gorguze is chairman and chief executive officer; Henry is vice chairman.
From the onset, Sinclair & Rush grew quickly, as vinyl plastisol became known as a cost-effective substitute for rubber.
Sales for 1993 were $34 million, Forst said.