KayBe Products Inc. recently celebrated a decade in the custom injection molding business by buying 19 acres in a Winston-Salem, N.C., industrial park and announcing plans to build a 50,000-square-foot plant for an estimated $2 million. When Tim and Katherine Bryant started KayBe in Kernersville, N.C., in 1985, they had two presses and two employees in a 2,000-square-foot room. Today, with 15 presses ranging from 28-200 tons of clamping force and 50 employees in 16,000 square feet of space, things are a bit cramped.
With company sales up more than 60 percent from 1993 to 1994, and another 25 percent so far this year, the Bryants decided it was time to get a place of their own.
Plans call for the company to double the number of machines to 30, and hire another 40 employees, bringing the total to 90 when the plant opens in March 1997.
Kimberly Bryant Fischvogt, KayBe's financial director and daughter of Tim and Katherine, said she never dreamed the company would grow like it has.
``I remember sitting in the plant when I was little and we had no work, the machines were still,'' she said. ``It's like music to my ears to hear them all running now.''
Fischvogt said her parents always knew the company would be successful, but didn't realize the extent of their success.
``Buying the land to build our own plant is really the fulfillment of a dream,'' she said.
Although KayBe expanded and brought in more work from different original-equipment customers over the past 10 years, the company still molds one part that it has had from the beginning: a Rubbermaid Inc. hummingbird feeder.
Fischvogt attributes the company's growth to KayBe's commitment to staying abreast of current manufacturing technology.
``We've always tried to keep up with technology even when we were small,'' said Fischvogt. ``We didn't hold back on spending money on new equipment if it helped us serve our customers better.''
In addition to state-of-the-art molding equipment, KayBe uses computer numerically controlled machining centers and computer-aided design in its mold design/build department. The company also offers bar-coded inventory control to its customers, something that is unusual to find at a small processor.
Strong growth in the southeastern United States hasn't hurt either. With major OEMs locating plants in the area, KayBe has won work from several new customers in the automotive and consumer products industries. The company also serves the communications, electronics and furniture industries.
KayBe has hot stamping, pad printing and subassembly capabilities in its secondary operations department.