Rochester Rotational Molding, a two-machine company in Rochester, Ind., lost two big customers in early 1995 but learned some lessons, according to President Marilyn Wade. ``In one week's time we had about 80 percent of our $2.5 million in sales walk out the door,'' Wade said.
She declined to name the customers. One customer already was doing its own rotomolding. When resin prices increased, the company took back in-house a food container product that Rochester Rotational Molding had been making. Wade said her company since has won back some of that company's business.
But the biggest blow came from the other customer, which was buying tanks molded by Rochester Rotational. With no advance warning, that customer started its own rotomolding operation and yanked the business, Wade said.
As a result, Rochester Rota-tional, which racked up $2.5 million in sales in 1994, dropped to $1.5 million in 1995.
The company is owned by Marilyn Wade and her husband, Allen Wade.
``It took a lot of soul-searching with my husband,'' she said. ``We talked to a lot of relatives who knew people who had been in similar situations.''
The couple decided to scale back and keep the business going. Employment was cut in half, from 30 people to 13. They sold excess inventory and tapped into the company's savings. They were able to avoid borrowing money.
The Wades set some goals. They want to double the customer base. They already have reached a goal of having no single customer account for more than 20 percent of overall sales.
``As of June of 1996, no customer was greater than 15.3 percent of year-to-date sales,'' Wade said.
The company has picked up some new custom business, including tanks, sump basins, boat docks, petroleum containment basins. One proprietary product is parking-lot stops. Employment now stands at more than 20.
``We're looking for a nice, stable customer base and building a solid relationship with our customers,'' Wade said.
Wade has become active in the Association of Rotational Mold-ers. She serves on the ARM board of directors and as chairman of the public relations committee.
``The last year-and-a-half has been a little slow in developing, and a struggle, but we will survive,'' she said.