CHICAGO — Moeller Marine Products recently expanded its warehouse space and added an off-site research facility that has produced one of the boat industry's first blow molded seats.
The marine and industrial-products supplier, owned by Moore Co. of Sparta, Tenn., completed a restructuring of its facilities to keep pace with growth, said research and development product manager David Butler.
The moves included adding 88,000 square feet to Moeller's 250,000-square-foot Sparta plant. The new area opened in September and includes warehouse space and an aluminum processing operation that moved from a leased plant in Goodlettsville, Tenn. It also installed a computer numerically controlled dual-head router.
Moeller opened its first free-standing R&D center in Twinsburg, Ohio, in July. The 10,000-square-foot building, which also holds sales offices, includes space to make plastic-cast prototype models and do computer-aided design, Butler said. R&D had been located at Goodlettsville.
The research team introduced a blow molded boat seat at the International Marine Trades Exhibit and Conference in Chicago. The seat, made from high density polyethylene, includes a low-pressure injection molded polypropylene base that allows the seat to slide. The base provides extra stiffness to hold the seat in place and is insert molded with the seat.
Though Moeller is mainly a rotomolder, it is considering growing blow and injection molding operations if the seat wins market acceptance.
``As far as we know, it's the only blow molded seat in the industry,'' Butler said. ``Because of tooling costs, it's best used for larger-volume boats. But for that market, it should be quite popular.''
He said several boat manufacturers are preparing to use the seat in production as soon as December. The product is lighter in weight than typical rotomolded seats, which normally include an aluminum extruded base, and can save labor costs in the molding process, he said.
Moeller recorded 1996 sales of $20.6 million, placing the firm 16th in Plastics News' recent ranking of North American rotomolders.