Global Tool & Engineering Inc. has opened two plants in two months, specializing in toolmaking and low-volume injection molding.
An Ironwood, Mich., tool shop began operations Aug. 1, and a Branford, Conn., rapid prototyping location opened June 3.
``A majority [of customers] have us mold tools and mold parts,'' Mike Zacharias, manager of both the main operation in Carrollton, Texas, and the new Michigan operation, said in a telephone interview.
``We do a small percentage of work with custom molders.''
Bradley Berkley and Scott Wahl founded Global Tool in 1994 as a product development management firm.
Berkley has a background in banking and finance, and he retains ownership control. Wahl contributes technical expertise and manages a division in St. Paul, Minn.
Global Tool started up a Texas manufacturing operation in 1995 and linked with Agio Capital Partners I LP of Minneapolis as an equity partner in late 1996. The venture capital firm supplied funding for new operations and the acquisition of computer numerically controlled machines and other equipment.
Berkley now works the funding issues, but leaves operational management to others. Sales totaled $5.3 million in 1996, and the firm expects to hit $8 million this year.
Speed and quality drive the corporate culture, according to Zacharias.
``We are trying to develop specific technologies that allow customers to bring products to market faster than their compe- tition.''
The 24,000-square-foot corporate headquarters near Dallas employs 60 and has complete design, tool-building and injection molding capabilities. Five closed-loop Toyo machines have clamping forces of 55-300 tons. Overhead cranes help speed mold changes.
The 20,000-square-foot Minnesota location, acquired from RKO Tooling in February 1996, employs 30 and offers similar capabilities, including one Toyo machine with a clamping force of 150 tons.
``We have added a lot of new equipment [in St. Paul] and plan to add Toyo presses in the near future as business needs dictate,'' Zacharias said.
In Connecticut, prototyping manager Richard Corden operates two DTM SLS selective laser sintering machines worth $600,000.
Charles Wood, general manager, runs the 5,000-square-foot site as a sales office and a rapid prototyping bureau for all Global locations.
Global Tool relocated the specialized machines from Texas, Zacharias said.
He anticipates that Branford will employ ``maybe half a dozen [people] within the next year'' and, eventually, develop into a full-service facility.
Ironwood, at the western tip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, opened this month with seven employees and a mandate to concentrate initially on pre-hardened P-20 tooling that is suitable for producing as many as 100,000 parts.
Global Tool upgraded a 7,500-square-foot Ironwood building.
In linking operations and communicating with customers, the company transmits data by file transfer protocol, modem and e-mail, using high-end modeling and design software, such as Parametric Technology Corp.'s Pro/Engineering, a Structural Resource Dynamics Corp. program and Baystate Technologies' Cadkey.
Penetrating the automotive industry is a priority, according to Zacharias.
``Several of us have strong contacts,'' he noted.
Companywide, Global operates eight Haas and two Fadal CNC machining centers, three Agie CNC electric discharge machines, seven manual Charmilles and Agie EDM centers, a variety of Bridgeport CNC milling machines and Mitsui surface grinders.
Global may extend its concept to locations such as California and Florida, ``putting the right tools in the hands of the right talent'' and minimizing management that might slow down the progress, Zacharias said.