CHICAGO — Injection molder Plastech Corp. has set up shop in its new $5 million plant in Amery, Wis.
The 76,000-square-foot molding operation opened on schedule Jan. 2, said Mark McCourtney, vice president of sales and marketing. The company expects to have 20 injection presses, none above 200 tons, and 50 workers in place at the plant by April, he said in an interview at the National Design Engineering Show, held March 16-19 in Chicago.
Some of those presses are coming from Plastech's Albuquerque plant, which shut down in August, some from its Rush City, Minn., plant and a few are newer machines, he said. More than half of those presses already are up and running.
The Amery plant will be dedicated to lower-tonnage work, and a 250,000-square-foot plant in Rush City will focus on parts requiring presses with clamping forces of 200-1,000 tons.
``The strategy is to grow the business at both plants based primarily on tonnage ... [though] we're always going to remain opportunistic,'' said McCourtney, who first announced Plastech's plans to build the plant at last year's design show.
Plastech sited the new Amery plant across the street from its 4-year-old shielding and assembly operation there, he said.
``It's been such a good location for us and a good community, that when we decided to build a new plant we looked there first,'' he said.
The plant, like the one at Rush City, already is QS 9000 and ISO 9002 certified. All utilities are under the floor, and the plant features centralized materials handling — designed with the medical-device market in mind. It easily could be transformed into a clean-room setup, he said.
For now, Plastech's mainstay markets in the 30- to 200-ton range are electronics, including thin-wall molding for cell phones, and office equipment. Its larger presses make parts for snow blowers, lawn mowers, off-road recreational vehicles and all-terrain vehicles.
The firm also has captured some new under-the-hood component work from Tier 1 auto suppliers, and McCourtney expects the auto business to show strong growth.
Plastech owner Dennis Frandsen has put the Albuquerque plant on the market and plans to hold a May auction to sell the eight remaining 500- to 700-ton presses at the site, McCourtney said. That plant was hit hard when the firm lost large-part business for vacuum cleaners and televisions in the region. As a result, Plastech expects sales to fall from $65 million in 1997 sales to about $55 million this year, but, McCourtney said: ``I expect to be back at $65 million by the end of next year.''
Frandsen also owns thermoformer Allied Plastics Inc., which tripled space recently when it moved into a new plant in Coon Rapids, Minn. Both Plastech and Allied are based in Forest Lake, Minn.