A bustling market for plastic boat furniture is boosting business for a Tennesee rotomolder. In the past year, Moeller of Tennessee Inc. doubled the size of its Sparta plant to 180,000 square feet, and added two new four-arm Ferry carousels and 30 workers. This year it expects to bring in two more Ferry machines to meet rising demand in the marine market.
Moeller is part of parent Moore Co.'s 8-year-old marine division, and marine products make up 95 percent of Moeller's sales, which last year were roughly $12 million, the company said.
``Being in the plastic business, as we are, has been a big advantage, because a lot of the boat manufacturers are on a crusade to take wood and aluminum out of boats,'' said Russ Belinski, vice president of operations.
``The plastic offers an awful lot. There's no corrosion. Aluminum parts dent and damage pretty easily,'' he said recently by telephone. ``In many cases [plastic is] a less-expensive way to go.''
Besides seats and chairs for boat makers, Moeller rotomolds fuels tanks, water tanks and live wells. Pontoon furniture in particular, custom made for firms such as Tracker Marine in Springfield, Mo., is fueling sales. Its part and tool design capabilities - a 10-person toolroom and a couple designers - put Moeller at an advantage in catering to boat makers, Belinski said.
``We've got a very good technical group,'' he said.
The rotomolding operation at Sparta runs six four-arm Ferry machines, and employs 100. Despite Tennessee's low unemployment rates, Moeller has never had trouble attracting qualified help, offering ``competitive wages and an excellent fringe-benefit package,'' Belinski said.
The company also runs four injection presses at its plant, including a 725-ton Cincinnati Milacron added last year, mostly to make seat backs and bottoms, which boat makers buy and upholster. That unit employs 25.
Moore is based in Westerly, R.I.