ANAHEIM, CALIF. - Simi Corp. blow molds some atypical products, such as suave classical containers for high-end beauty salon products, and will market proprietary water bottles with high-tech filters. Simi molds bottles with an etched-glass appearance for Alterna's professional line of shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, gel and lotion products. In August, a national marketing campaign introduced the Alterna enzyme therapy line to beauty salon clientele.
Simi worked a year to develop the packaging with the customer, Alterna's Applied Research Laboratories of Beverly Hills, Calif.
``We make a bottle that fits what a customer tries to portray,'' Gary Tippitt, Simi president, said in an interview at the company's 118,000-square-foot Anaheim facility.
Simi blow molds the PVC bottles and then has a subcontractor spray the bottles with frost and silk-screen them with silver ink. Closure caps from Seaguist complete each simulated frosted-glass container.
In seeking the Alterna business, some glass bottle producers said they could make a frosted product ``just as good as those glass bottles,'' an Alterna official related. ``Then they discovered the bottles were Alterna's plastic version.''
Alterna competes in a niche with professional lines such as Nexxus, Paul Mitchell, Sebastian and Matrix.
In a departure from normal molding ventures, Simi is organizing a distributor network for a new line of its own Pres2Pure individual water bottles.
``We are going to market this line to all people who use water,'' Tippitt said.
The polypropylene cap contains a carbon filter that will remove chlorine, lead, pesticides and volatile contaminants to less than 300 parts per million.
``This filter is adequate for anything that comes out of your tap in the United States,'' he said.
Simi makes and silk-screens the 20-ounce bottle of low density polyethylene and plans initial marketing through department stores, home centers, bicycle shops and other markets.
The cap of an international version has a longer neck and a proprietary plastic filter impregnated with iodine. Simi subcontracted that production. The filter snaps down into the same-size PE bottle.
In other activities, the company provides assembly services and injection molds millions of tanning bed goggles and custom closures.
Simi operates 22 Bekum and Fisher blow molding machines and a pair of 110-ton Cincinnati Milacron injection molding machines to make custom closure caps for a large customer, Sebastian International Inc. of Woodland Hills, Calif.
Recently, Simi added two Fisher blow molding machines and a 115-ton Jomar injection press.
``Growth in closures and other business may require more injection molding capacity, two machines in 1997 and four in 1998,'' Tippitt said.
He said Simi's reputation for quality and responsiveness keeps the business moving.
``We have no trouble filling out our machinery,'' Tippitt said.
``I subscribe to the salesmanship of consultative selling,'' Tippitt said. ``Our sales group comes out and consultatively talks about the possibility of making something to contain their products and, because of the beauty of the package, helps sell their product.''
Tippitt takes pride in Simi's capability to take an idea ``from a napkin sketch through the CAD-CAM system, make drawings and then produce blow molds, injection molds or injection blow molds,'' he said.
``We put it on our machinery, make the products, decorate them and get them out the door.''
Simi employs 236, including 221 in blow molding.
Simi has other divisions for mold making and decorating.
At one time, Simi was Orange County's largest tool and die manufacturer, with a staff of 25, but mega-customer Mattel Inc. decided in 1988 to move its mold making to Tijuana, Mexico.
``We pared down our mold division and now make molds only for our own production,'' Tippitt said.
Simi's shop has a crew of nine including a full-time specialist for computer-aided design and manufacturing.
Simi's decorating capabilities include silk screening, heat-transfer labeling and pad printing.
``We bought four additional state-of-the-art decorating lines last year and now have 27,'' Tippitt said. ``Decorating accounts for about 8 percent of our business now but should go to 17 percent.''
Simi decorates about 35 percent of its blow molded products. Many customers apply a label when they fill the container.
Simi reported 1995 blow molding sales of $14.6 million out of a company total of $15.1 million. The business plan anticipates $15.4 million this year and forecasts sales of $18 million and the addition of 14 people in 1997 ``on the basis of five days a week,'' Tippitt said.
``If we go to seven [days a week], we would do $20 million, but it's hard to find enough quality people to run the plant.''
PVC accounts for about 65 percent of Simi's material usage, and volumes of low density polyethylene and some high density PE follow.
Tool and die specialist Tom Safstrom founded the company in 1969 as Superior Injection Molding Inc., but ``everyone knows us by the acronym Simi,'' Tippitt said.
Safstrom, Simi's chief executive officer, handles shop and manufacturing operations, and Tippitt is responsible for sales and marketing.