Wilderness Mold Inc., a Massachusetts-based tool shop, plans to relocate to a new facility that will quadruple its space and help the company marry some of its operations to an adjacent injection molding plant.
The $2 million expansion is part of a repositioning strategy by the mold maker to become a full-service operation, said James Patenaude, president and owner of Wilderness Mold. The 24-year-old company has rapidly outgrown its existing building by garnering new contracts in the medical, electronics and telecommunications industries, he said.
The company, now based in Northampton, Mass., will move to a 7-acre site in nearby West Hatfield by late November. Adjoining the tool shop will be Mill Valley Molding Inc., a plastic injection molder that is half-owned by Patenaude and area businessman Ralph Healy.
The 15,000-square-foot Mill Valley facility, which serves the same markets as Wilderness Mold, will double its size next year and add an undetermined number of injection presses, Patenaude said.
The cost of Mill Valley's expansion, which also includes adding secondary operations and warehousing, is estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million, according to Patenaude.
Mill Valley already is adding five Roboshot electric injection presses, distributed by Cincinnati Milacron Inc. Two of the horizontal presses have been installed, and the rest are expected within a month.
Wilderness' move greatly will increase the mold maker's capabilities. The company plans to conduct mold testing and debugging on Mill Valley's 15 injection presses, including the Roboshot machines. The presses range in clamping force from 55-330 tons.
The setup allows Wilderness and Mill Valley to work together, if needed, to supply some customers' concept-to-production requirements, including assembly.
``Both companies have grown so much in the past four years,'' Patenaude said. ``[Wilderness Mold] has totally busted out of its existing location and needed more space. It's a natural evolution to build a state-of-the-art facility and use Mill Valley's capabilities.''
Combined sales for Wilderness Mold and Mill Valley have grown from $4.5 million in 1992 to $11 million last year.
Of that total, Wilderness Mold recorded about $4.5 million. The tool shop has increased employment from 18 to 50 people in the past four years.
Wilderness Mold will relocate from its 6,000-square-foot building to a full-service center of 23,750 square feet.
The plant will feature $1.5 million in new computer numerically controlled equipment; two HSS wire electric discharge machines; and several CNC sinker EDM machines with automatic tool changers.
The mold shop will add a product and tool-design engineering department capable of creating three-dimensional models, and will have its own heat-treatment and arc-welding area to design and build tools.
Wilderness Mold specializes in injection molds for such products as housings and gaskets for cellular telephones, electronic connectors for computers and disposable medical devices. The products, many of which are molded at Mill Valley, are made from a variety of engineered resins and elastomers.
Patenaude, a former mold maker with Wilderness Mold, bought the company in 1992 from founders Roger Damon and Robert Wells.
Mill Valley opened in 1986.