Western Sky Industries Inc.'s injection molding subsidiary in Hayward, Calif., has taken on new trappings, a gradual shift in market focus and a thrust toward standards qualification.
In March, the unit started equipment operations in a 22,000-square-foot facility in an industrial park, after relocating 10 miles from a substandard site that failed to meet growth needs.
Several new medical-related jobs are creating another niche alongside the molder's core aircraft and automotive work.
RWTV GmbH's TUV Essen subsidiary in San Jose, Calif., will assess the Hayward facility in mid-June for certification to QS 9000, the automotive industry's version of ISO 9000. A pre-assessment occurred in mid-April.
Western Sky was founded in 1951 as a fabricator of aircraft wing assemblies. Development work on an aircraft grommet led to a joint patent with Boeing Co. and the technological basis for Western Sky's entry into the automotive market.
Philadelphia entrepreneurs Dinesh Desai and Washburn Oberwager acquired the business in 1989 when 10 employees were making aircraft metal fasteners and plastic automotive bushings.
In 1991, they hired Ajit Desai as general manager of the Hayward operation and corporate vice president. The Desais are not related but are friends from their boyhood days in India.
Ajit Desai took ownership of a few shares in the parent firm, qualifying Western Sky for status as a minority supplier.
Doug Clamors joined in 1995 as aerospace and automotive program manager, locating in Royal Oak, Mich., and Ratan Bajaj was hired in August 1996 as medical and computer program manager.
Soon, however, Bajaj found himself organizing the relocation of presses and sophisticated engineering design systems, while simultaneously adding several medical jobs to the molding mix. Further growth will lead to the installation of a clean room.
``We can accommodate 24 machines and anticipate being at full capacity in two years,'' Clamors said in a telephone interview. Currently, the firm operates six machines, mostly running 8-, 16- and 32-cavity molds. The equipment includes a 50-ton Arburg on single- and two-cavity work; three Kawaguchis with clamping forces of 80-150 tons; a new 200-ton Toyo; and a 125-ton HPM.
Western Sky expects this year to mold 80 million pieces, primarily pivot bushings for automotive seating applications. The patented product is ``on 85 percent of [automotive] seats worldwide,'' Clamors claimed. Aircraft grommet customers include operations of Boeing, McDonnell Douglas Corp., Aerospatiale Group and Bombardier Inc.
The subsidiary, also known as Western Sky Industries, employs 45-50, recorded 1996 sales of $5.1 million and anticipates growth to $7 million this year, Clamors said.
The parent projects pro forma 1997 sales of more than $100 million.
Other subsidiaries include Electromech Technologies Inc., which builds electrical DC auxiliary aircraft motors in Wichita, Kan., and AC motors for land-based missile systems in Maysville, Ky.; Aero Quality Sales Inc., an aftermarket distributor of aircraft batteries in Stamford, Conn.; and Hartwell Corp., which was acquired in March and makes custom aircraft latches.