Allied Tool Inc.'s brand-new Houston business has fared so well, the outfit already has moved to bigger digs. In June, the Michigan Center, Mich., blow mold and tooling maker opened a 4,000-square-foot operation in Houston to serve firms in the area. But as customers' molds began to pile up, the company soon realized the leased space wouldn't do. Luckily, its landlord had a larger facility available right next door, and the Houston operation is settling in to its new 10,000-square-foot home.
``We didn't expect it to grow that fast,'' said Greg Hogle, vice president of sales and marketing. ``We need to put more equipment in.''
Hogle said he expects the Houston operation to add more than $1 million to the company's total sales, which should reach $5 million this year.
In Houston, Allied Tool reworks and reconditions tooling for blow molding firms, including Texberry Container Corp. The plant employs six, but Hogle expects that number to grow to at least 10 once the new equipment arrives.
At Michigan Center, the company's capabilities include computer numerically controlled machining and computer-aided design and manufacturing, to engineer molds and tooling and design containers ranging from 81/4 ounces to 5 gallons.
The company also makes blow molding machine replacement parts, such as accumulator and reciprocating-screw heads, and clamps, Hogle said.
The company started out in 1988, with three workers making small tooling for a handful of customers, among them the former Plastics USA Corp., whose Liberty line of blow molding machines made up the largest part of Allied Tool's business at the time.
When Johnson Controls Inc. of Milwaukee bought Plastics USA in 1992, it canceled Allied's Liberty business, Hogle said. To compensate, Allied Tool set to work building up its customer base.
Today, with nearly 50 employees and a ``Christmas card'' list of 450 customers, the company is ``doing quite well,'' he said.
Hogle attributes Allied Tool's speedy growth to the accumulated experience and expertise of its staff. Partners Hogle, Terry Morris, founder and president, and Bryan Street, vice president of engineering, run the firm. The men come from common ground - all were once Johnson Controls employees.
``We're all experienced people. We went to a good school,'' Hogle said of the trio's JCI days.
Now their company competes with their alma mater, making replacement parts for Johnson Controls' Uniloy and Liberty blow molding lines, among other brands.
At its Michigan plant, Allied also makes molds, trim tooling and mold tooling, such as shear steels, which fit on the top of the mold to form the internal dimension of the neck, and blow pins. Its business, though mostly domestic, reaches as far as Ireland and Saudi Arabia, Hogle said.