The former Smith Corona Corp. typewriter molding plant in Cortland, N.Y., which closed when Corona moved the work to Mexico, has a new life training disabled people to assemble plastic parts.
Four years ago, when the firm closed the factory, J.M. Murray Center bought the 108,000-square-foot building. Included in the sale were five injection presses.
Murray Center picked up one more press from Rubbermaid Inc. The center molds parts and does subassembly work for the Wooster, Ohio, consumer products firm.
Gary Thompson, plastics sales representative, said Murray Center employs about 200 disabled people. A rehabilitation engineer, Amy Baxter, designs jobs around individual workers.
``We put the right person on the right task,'' Thompson said.
On two 500-, two 300- and two 200-ton presses, the center does overflow molding and assembly, and can handle high-volume jobs. For example, during a one-year period, Murray Center molded 10 million plastic clothes hangers for Spotless Plastics USA Inc. of Long Island, N.Y. Spotless needed help filling the extra-large order.
``They did a good job for us. We had a good relationship. They are very good and very professional,'' said Peter Wilson, Spotless chief executive officer.
The Murray Center molded the hangers, added metal clips and packaged the finished product.
Another project: molding and adding bristles to more than 8 million toothbrushes a year used by the Head Start program.
A technical staff runs the molding operation. Disabled workers do not run presses, but they do everything else, including hot stamping, assembly and packaging.
Thompson said pricing for machine time is competitive with offshore suppliers. One of the 500-ton machines costs $30 an hour. A customer pays $26 an hour for a 300-ton press. A 200-ton press costs $22 an hour.
Visitors to Murray Center will notice an oddity: Each of the six molding machines has a name, on a sign mounted on the press.
``So when we say, `Big Bertha's down,' we know who that is,'' Thompson said.