When Cadillac Rubber & Plastics Inc. decided to separate its East Coast and Midwest operations, it was facing an identity crisis, said spokesman Ron Graf. The Cadillac name is nearly synonymous with automotive, he said by telephone Nov. 28. But parent Avon Rubber plc wanted ``to reidentify its business in North America'' by emphasizing its new direction -into consumer goods.
Earlier this year, Cadillac bought injection molder Pacer Tool & Plastics Inc. of South Plainfield, N.J., which makes plastic cosmetic packaging for companies like Revlon Inc., and medical and consumer products.
Soon after that, Cadillac placed Pacer, along with its Albion and Lockport, N.Y., plants - formerly Cadillac's Injected Rubber Products Division - under the new name of Avon Injected Rubber & Plastics Inc. Also subsumed under that umbrella are Cadillac's automotive plastic operations, formerly in Manton, Mich.
The new unit will function as a stand-alone company, said its president, Jim Jameson.
The Lockport facility runs 38 injection molding machines, which is mainly for plastic auto parts, he said. Four rubber overmold machines in Lockport eventually will be moved to a leased, 80,000-square-foot plant in Albion which houses rubber operations.
Those machines mold rubber gaskets around plastic valves, for use in automotive air conditioning systems.
The Lockport plant employs about 115 in plastics molding, according to Graf.
About two months ago, Avon Injected hired two full-time sales people to generate new consumer goods accounts, Graf said. Most of Lockport's $16 million in plastics sales comes from carmakers and their suppliers, but Avon is set on doubling the plant's consumer goods business by next year, a business that now stands at roughly $1.5 million - $1 million of that in blow molded toys from a single machine, Jameson said.
To do that, Avon will not need to add capacity either at Lockport, or at Pacer, which reported injection molding sales of $5.7 million in 1994.
For now, the new company's total plastics business mix is 70 percent automotive, 30 percent consumer goods, Jameson said.
At Albion, the rubber operation nearly tripled its floor space Nov. 1, when it moved to a new site. The plant manufactures radiator gaskets for the auto industry - primarily General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp. -and other molded rubber products.
Its former, 22,000-square-foot plant will be mothballed for the time being, Jameson said. The relocation cost more than $300,000.
``We were just too crammed for space,'' he said.
Avon Rubber plc is in Melksham, England. The company's North American units are managed by Avon Rubber & Plastics Inc., based in Cadillac, Mich.
Joe Miller of Crain News Service contributed to this report.