Near the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, custom rotomolders are making themselves conspicuous, according to Rick Johanneck, owner and president of Rhino Roto Molding Inc. in Maple Lake, Minn. In October, Rhino plugged in its four-arm Ferry and fired up the oven at a new, 15,000-square-foot plant in Maple Lake. The machine, Model RS4-400, has a 160-inch swing and 5,000-pound capacity. Like the rhino, it's one big animal - the equivalent of four typical rotomolding machines, Johanneck boasted.
He said Rhino is just one of five new rotomolders to open recently within 100 miles of the Twin Cities area. But he plans to get his piece of business.
``There's a lot of work out there,'' he said.
As for what his company expects to be molding: ``Anything we want is what I'm hoping,'' he said. Currently the company's eight employees are rotomolding linear low density polyethylene into ice fishing sleds, for an undisclosed Wisconsin firm, and covers for snowmobile runners.
Johanneck, who would not disclose his investment, has put considerable muscle into launching his operation. In March, he left his family's rotomolding company, Poly Dome Inc. in Litchfield, Minn., where he worked for 20 years, to strike out on his own. And already he is planning for the future.
By July, he wants to double the Rhino plant's size and add a second machine, he said. The 12-acre site is set up for a 45,000-square-foot plant. Though until his business picks up its pace, ``we've got some open oven time,'' he said.