A rear bumper for a Monte Carlo stock car signaled Allied Plastics Inc.'s thermoforming debut Nov. 1. With an 11,000-square-foot plant in Twin Lakes, Minn., a three-station rotary machine, computer-aided design capabilities and seven employees, the company already is ripe for expansion.
A second three-station ma-chine should be in place by early March, said co-owners Steve Wieder and Tim Neal. Allied spent more than $1 million on the machines, both supplied by Maac Machinery Co. Inc. of Itasca, Ill.
Allied will do about $1 million in sales this year, they said in a recent telephone interview.
Wieder and Neal form the entrepreneurial backbone of Allied, with 16 years and 13 years of thermoforming experience, respectively. So far Allied's business has exceeded their expectations; demand and the need to be competitive drove them to buy a second machine much sooner than planned.
If their company has a niche, it is deep-draw, heavy-gauge parts, with a good bit of its business coming from customer Five Star Fabricating Inc., a Twin Lakes maker of stock car bodies. In fact, Five Star co-owners Carl Schultz and Fran Prestay also own a piece of Allied, as investors.
Racing's off-season has become Five Star's - and so Allied's - peak season for building stock cars; Allied, which makes the cars' front and rear ends, is exploring opportunities for forming other car parts normally made of fiberglass or sheet metal, Wieder said.
Though the Minnesota firm does its share of regional jobs, bidding against other Midwest thermoformers, it has picked up business as far south as the Carolinas and Georgia. Products include a manicurist's table made of a PVC-ABS blend; and reusable polyethylene pallets and trays for automotive packaging, a market it expects to grow ``due to high demand on recycling and eliminating cardboard and wood,'' Wieder said.