Franchino Mold and Engineering Co. is venturing outside its native Michigan for the first time to open a new mold-making plant in a well-populated automotive corridor of Kentucky.
The Lansing, Mich.-based toolmaker, which does a majority of its business with automotive firms, plans to open a 16,500-square-foot plant in Glasgow, Ky., in February. The plant, which will employ 15, will cost about $2 million in building and equipment, said Franchino sales and marketing manager Robert Worthy.
The facility primarily will produce plastic injection molds and die casts for carmakers and Tier 1 suppliers situated in a four-state region — including Tennessee and southern Indiana and Ohio — that has become dotted with automakers and molders.
The company, which recorded $15 million in sales last year, will be one of the first and largest mold makers to pitch its tent in that area, Worthy said.
``The plant gives us a presence down there that we didn't see in the area,'' Worthy said. ``We analyzed the market and realized that we were most competitive in the area within a 200-mile radius of Lansing. It was time to expand and gain customers in the southern states.''
The state of Kentucky helped spur the new plant site by providing as much as $950,000 in state tax credits over a 10-year period, said spokesman Joseph Lilly of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.
The plant, which will be located near Bowling Green, Ky., has room to expand to five times its original size, Worthy said. Initially, the site will include a 50-ton crane, a large spotting press, several vertical machining centers and electric discharge machines, a boring mill and other equipment.
The company would like to increase employment at the plant to 50 within five years if business warrants, Worthy said. Franchino currently has 165 employees.
Franchino, which opened in 1955, also operates three plants in Lansing, one at 50,000 square feet and the other two at 20,000 square feet. The company makes molds for plastic interior trim parts, steering columns and underhood components, among other products, Worthy said. Its die casts are used extensively for underhood structural parts.
In addition, the company operates a large mold repair facility from one of its plants. The company also makes molds and die casts for the furniture, lighting and appliance industries.