AKRON, OHIO — Years spent developing the automotive market are paying off for rotational molding equipment maker FSP Machinery Co. (Canada) Inc.
FSP President Peter Friesen said he first targeted the automotive market in the 1980s, building research and development machines and trying out new technology.
So far this year, Friesen said, FSP has sold more than $1 million worth of equipment to automotive suppliers. He declined to identify customers.
Friesen said FSP should sell another $1 million worth of machines next year into the automotive market.
``We're really spending a lot of time in that area. We're really the major supplier of slush and rotomolding equipment'' to automotive, Friesen said.
FSP has sold clamshell machines and independent-arm turret machines into the market. The machines turn out instrument panels and other interior trim parts, such as door panels and headrests.
Friesen said instrument panel outer skins represent a major breakthrough for the rotomolding industry. New materials and new computer controls for the machines can turn out these types of complex, advanced parts.
``Today we can do the whole instrument panel,'' he said.
Rotomolding competes with thermoforming and injection molding to make the skin.
Friesen discussed the automotive industry during a recent interview at FSP's new office in Akron. FSP relocated its northeast Ohio office from Stow to Akron in July. Friesen said FSP had an option to buy the Stow building, but did not. The company moved to Akron when the owner sold the building, he said.
FSP has its headquarters plant in Winkler, Manitoba. In 1995, the company opened a plant just eight miles across the U.S.-Canada border in Walhalla, N.D. The Ohio office opened later that year. Richard Fair is eastern division manager, based in Akron.
Northeast Ohio is an important market. More than 300 rotomolders are located within a 500-mile radius of Akron. Toy makers Little Tikes Co. in Hudson and Step2 Co. in Streetsboro — No. 1 and 2 on Plastics News' rotomolding ranking — are close by.
Friesen also said Akron is close to automotive suppliers.
``This is a center for the rotomolding industry,'' he said.
FSP also makes thermoforming machines and other, custom equipment. Friesen would not disclose FSP's sales.
In Akron, Fair will be hiring a technical support staff to cover the eastern and midwestern United States.
The address of the new office is 150 Springside Drive, Akron, Ohio 44333. Tel. (330) 665-2266, fax (330) 665-2018.