Injection molders Beacon Plastics Inc. and Precision Southeast Inc. will spend nearly $4.2 million to upgrade machinery and add capacity and manufacturing space during the next two years. The expansion will give the injection molding firms, which share some common ownership, 80-85 injection molding presses in three Southeast locations.
Both companies are expanding to take advantage of a burgeoning automotive market in the Southeast. Precision, for example, is a Tier 2 supplier to BMW and makes more than 30 parts for the new BMW Z-3 roadster, made in Greer, S.C.
Beacon's expansion, scheduled for completion in late 1998, will feature about $3 million in equipment improvements to the firm's Homer, La., plant. About $1.2 million in improvements at Precision Southeast's plant in Marion, S.C., will include 20,000 square feet of new manufacturing space and additional presses.
A total of 12 presses will be added to the two companies' locations.
Harry B. Ussery, S. Richard Averette and William B. Bradbury Jr. are partners in both Beacon and Precision Southeast.
Bradbury, a past chairman of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington, ran PMS Consolidated Inc., a colorant maker in Somerset, N.J., before its purchase by M.A. Hanna Co.
Founded in 1976, Greenville, S.C.-based Beacon was acquired in 1991 by Ussery.
Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based Precision Southeast was founded in 1980 by Pete Wood, according to Averette.
Precision Southeast also has a Myrtle Beach plant that makes components for cordless hand tools and insert molded drill chucks for Black & Decker Corp. and others. It also makes glass-filled nylon and filled polypropylene components for vacuum motors used in car ventilation systems.
Precision Southeast is one of the world's largest suppliers of liquid filter center tubes for heavy industrial engines, Averette said.
The principals said the improvements will bring the number of presses in Myrtle Beach to 32, with clamping forces of 40-230 tons. The Marion plant will have 14 machines, with clamping forces of 120-400 tons.
The Precision Southeast Marion plant has tripled in size since the 15,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1994. The latest improvements call for four additional Toshiba machines, with 190-250 tons of clamping force. Another eight or nine presses will be installed in the expanded section later, Averette said.
Averette said he is proud of the ``engineering alliances'' with other companies that, like his, market to original equipment manufacturers.
``The current emphasis is on engineering alliances with [OEM] customers who can produce more complete components for the automotive industry,'' Averette said.
``We have three such alliances: One is making vacuum motors for heater controls, the other is making assemblies for bumpers and trunk lids and a third makes fuel systems for companies, including GM and Chrysler Corp.,'' he said.
Two other firms, making parts for the same vacuum motor, join with Precision Southeast and take their product jointly to OEMs, Ussery said. These companies also expanded to accommodate the new production, he said.
Beacon opened the Homer plant nearly two years ago after buying Lucent Technologies' telephone case molding and subassembly operations in Shreveport, La.
Lucent, a technology development spinoff of AT&T Corp., had been rebuilding and retrofitting its equipment for some time before Beacon purchased six of its machines, Ussery said. Beacon currently runs 22 machines with clamping forces up to 400 tons in Homer, molding primarily ABS.
Initially, Beacon will install two new Toyo machines of 55 and 300 tons at its Homer facility. That first phase will cost about $500,000. With the machines will be Star controllers and a central materials-handling system by Universal Dynamics Inc. of Woodbridge, Va.
The Homer plant will continue to make housings and handsets for business telephones. The plant also injection molds components for grass trimmers and other lawn and garden devices and electrical transmission components on transformers.