Best Plastics Inc. plans to expand rotational molding capacity next year to supplement its capabilities in thermoforming. The Cassopolis, Mich., firm entered rotomolding in mid-1994 with a Ferry R280 machine, which it since has converted to a four-station unit. Best general manager Michael O'Bryant said the machine helped it enter new markets and expand in recreational vehicle parts, a key sector for the private firm.
O'Bryant said Best has invested in new equipment and tech-nology since it recovered from a massive fire in May 1992 that caused about $2.5 million in damage and destroyed about half of its 110,000 square feet of manufacturing space. The fire's cause has not been determined.
``Sometimes a fire can be somewhat of a good thing,'' O'Bryant said in a telephone interview. ``It caused us to rethink our business.''
Best continued thermoforming parts while it rebuilt after the fire, and sales fell only 7 percent in 1992 from its record year in 1991. It redesigned its manufacturing layout and bought state-of-the-art equipment. Recent purchases include a twin-table, five-axis computer numerically controlled router for automotive aftermarket parts and a computer-aided-design system.
O'Bryant predicted sales this year will match the 24 percent hike Best achieved in 1994, but he would not disclose dollar volume. The 150-employee firm has 10 thermoforming machines and churns out about 3,000 different products, most of which are custom for the recreational vehicle, furniture, transportation and other industries. It also makes its own line of Packmaster rooftop storage pods for vans and motor homes.
The 24-year-old firm mainly sells to local manufacturers, but exports as far away as Pacific Rim countries. The firm buys plastic sheet, primarily ABS.