F&M Plastics began three years ago as an offshoot of a 21-year-old mold-making operation in Leominster, Mass. Today the custom injection molder has a firmly rooted business of its own. F&M Plastics and its sister, F&M Tool and Die Co. Inc., share a 17,000-square-foot plant in Leominster, which has become cramped quarters for the growing pair. In early fall the F&M firms will add 15,000 square feet to their facility, an investment of roughly $250,000, according to Mark Gasbarro, the companies' vice president.
The Gasbarros -F&M founder Francis and his sons, Mark and Michael - own and run both operations.
Starting the molding business had been ``a trial ... to get our feet wet,'' Mark Gasbarro said recently by phone. But, after three years' experience, Gasbarro said F&M Plastics is ready to move on.
The plant expansion is a commitment to a growing molding business. Injection molding sales were about $1.3 million for the year ended March 31, he said. The tool business did about $1.8 million.
For now F&M Plastics operates out of about 3,500 square feet, running five presses, Impcos and Cincinnati Milacrons, with clamping forces of 350-700 tons.
The molder employs nine full timers, plus temporary help as needed.
In the expanded facility, injection molding operations eventually will take up 12,000 square feet, Gasbarro said. The company has no definite plans yet to add molding machines. In September its number of injection molding machines grew from three to five.
In the current setup, F&M Tool and Die's 20-person outfit comprises 7,000 square feet, and warehousing 6,500 square feet.
In April 1993 F&M Plastics started up with two presses, bringing in a few local customers and taking up overflow for tool and die clientele with proprietary molding operations. Gasbarro said the family branched into molding because it wanted to become a full-service vendor and attract new business.
F&M's injection molded products include housewares, furniture, computer accessories and garden tools.
Although it uses mostly polypropylene, polyethylene and polystyrene, Gasbarro said the firm is ``building a tool right now to run nylon.''
Together the F&M companies can offer full-service capabilities under one roof - ``part design right through assembly and packaging'' - a muscle Gasbarro said F&M wants to develop.
``Basically, the tool shop will stand behind the mold, because it's being run in the same company,'' he said.
There is some overlap among customers. Those jobs can involve working closely with what Gasbarro called ``inventor-types,'' who are unsure of ``all the things needed to bring out a part.''
Francis Gasbarro is president of the firms. Michael manages the toolroom.