CHICAGO — Seitz Corp. has beefed up molding at its main plant in Connecticut, and is building a Colorado engineering hub with an eye toward launching production there as soon as next year.
Since January, the firm's Torrington, Conn., plant has added five new injection molding machines at about $150,000 apiece: two 80-ton Nisseis, two 85-ton Van Dorns and a Newbury shuttle press, said K.G. Seitz, vice president of product development. Another press, slated for the site in the next two months, will bring the total at Torrington to 49, and the investment to more than $900,000. No new workers were added to the plant's 250-person work force.
The 1,700-square-foot sales and engineering office in Lafayette, Colo., near Boulder, is set to open May 1. The incentive for locating there is ``a nice, small [customer] base,'' mainly computer manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard Co., said Alan Seitz, owner, president and chief executive officer. But the firm also is looking for openings in its other markets, such as large appliances, Seitz said March 17 at the National Design Engineering Show in Chicago.
The game plan for Colorado is a strategy Seitz has used before. In 1996 it opened a small, just-in-time operation in Rockford, Ill., anchored to customer Bergstrom Inc., a maker of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for heavy trucks and off-road vehicles. That operation, now with four presses and 19 employees, molds HVAC fans, blower wheels and other air-moving parts and subassemblies, Seitz said.
Next year Rockford expects to add space and boost its highest press tonnage — now at 770 tons — to 1,200 tons, to make larger HVAC fans and shrouds. Right now it subcontracts those large items.
Alan Seitz's nephew, K.G., will head up engineering in Lafayette. Hewlett-Packard's computer drive business is just one of the firm's targets in the area.
Alan Seitz's aggressive goals for his $30 million-in-sales company include tripling that figure in five years, he said.
``But I'd be satisfied with doubling sales,'' he noted.
About a year ago, the firm hooked up with Torrington Research, a Torrington engineering firm that specializes in air-flow systems, to work on increasing the output of conventional fans through design technology and break into new, related areas. On order is $125,000 worth of TR's equipment for balancing fan blades, inspecting air flow and performing other tests, Seitz said. One project under way with TR is a large fan for a car wash.
Seitz's lean-manufacturing agenda includes seeking out savvy people to sit on its board — a council of engineering, manufacturing and financial experts from various firms, such as TR President Roger Dickinson.
The molder uses engineering plastics, like polycarbonate, nylon and glass-carbon-reinforced materials, to make its fans, gears, drivetrains, transmissions and other components.
Next year marks the family-owned firm's 50th year of business.