EL PASO, TEXAS - Infinity Plastics Inc., a new custom injection molder, is up and running in El Paso. Owner Bruce Bedwell expects to get all his custom molding clients from the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, area.
``We're going to have all the business we can handle. And it's going to be not just one [industrial] segment. We're going to spread it out.''
Bedwell came from Durant, Okla., and signed a lease on 48,000 square feet June 20, with an option on 32,000 more square feet. Since the space he rented in an El Paso industrial park was originally used for distribution operations, it lacked the electricity Infinity needs to operate nine Engel injection molding machines with clamping forces of 300-1,000 tons. It also needed replumbing for a water system to cool the machines and the molds.
``A tremendous amount of infrastructure was not readily available in this warehouse-style building,'' Bedwell said.
He expects to add three or four more 1,000-ton machines and two more 750s in the next 12-18 months. In nine months, he expects to be operating with 40-50 employees.
Before coming here, Bedwell was a minority shareholder in three corporations in southeastern Oklahoma - Texas Multiplastics, Custom Multiplastics, and Engineer Multiplastics. A year ago, the majority stockholder in the three companies sold out and Bedwell decided to sell his own interest.
``I didn't make enough on the deal to retire, just enough to be dangerous,'' he joked.
He decided to look at a company for sale in the El Paso area. When he and fellow investors were unable to swing a deal, he decided he knew enough about the market in the area to settle here and start a business.
``There was a wide opportunity for custom injection molding in the 500-ton, 750, 1,000 and above, because most of the custom molders here specialize in small machines - 400 tons and below. It looked like a good area for higher-tonnage machine production,'' he said.
Bedwell, presently the sole owner of Infinity, invested several million dollars in machinery and invited Gene Shukis to join the firm as chief operating officer.
His marketing philosophy eliminates the need for contracts with clients.
``If you negotiate a contract, you can make the lawyers a lot of money, but that still doesn't guarantee you will have that business for three or five years if your price is not competitive, if your quality is not there, if your delivery times are not there. So, rather than make the lawyers a lot of money, I'd just as soon work off purchase orders. I'd just as soon deliver top quality at a reasonable price and on time. And I think I'll have more business than I can handle.''
Bedwell won't reveal the names of his potential clients, but he expects ``to work with two or three major corporations in the area. In fact, we've had extensive discussions with a couple of them already.''
When he scouted the area, Bedwell gave some thought to locating in Ciudad Ju rez, on the Mexican side of the border, where five of the region's 20 custom molders are established. But he rejected the option because El Paso's electricity and real estate costs are lower than those in Ju rez. Labor cost was not an important consideration.
``If you use automated systems like we will use, with robots, motorized conveyors and so forth, you gain nothing from the lower cost of labor in Mexico.''
Bedwell discovered that, despite the substantial number of plastics operations in El Paso, it had a shortage of tool and die makers. However, Bedwell was able to solve that problem. Preferred Mold and Engineering of Denver will put six toolmakers into Bedwell's building.
Bedwell will sublease 1,000 square feet to Preferred.
``It will be available to make new tools, to do repairs and engineering changes.''
Preferred also will serve other molders in the area.