PITTSFIELD, MASS. — The foundation is forming at the new Stearnsville Business Park, as Marland Mold Inc. watches its new $4.5 million, 62,000-square-foot home take shape.
The 51-year-old company manufactures high-cavitation injection molding tools for packages and closures for beverages, medical and personal-care products. It's a remarkable turn of events for a company that six years ago was threatened with its own closure.
``It will be a new, state-of-the-art building — climate-controlled,'' said company President Don E. Madison, ``With better crane capacity — four major cranes with the largest at 10 tons.''
His voice crackles with enthusiasm and expectation while showing off the artist's drawing of the new building. The square footage will not be much bigger than the firm's current Pecks Road site, but Madison says the difference will be quite noticeable. It also is expandable to between 85,000 and 90,000 square feet.
``We were starting to have growing pains,'' said Madison. ``Engineering needed room to expand. We were short of conference space. We were looking at building an addition.''
``Video conferencing will be built in and we will be able to put engineering and manufacturing together,'' added K. Anders Edlund, vice president of marketing and sales. ``It all means maximum efficiency.''
Edlund also described a recent situation where a mold was built and shipped in three parts. Then it was put together on site. The new building will enable them to build the entire mold in-house, if need be.
Back in October 1992, the company was threatening to close because of unprofitability. An employee buyout is credited with changing its direction. Employment has climbed from 47 to 86 and Madison expects it to rise to 90-95 by 1999.
He said that employees own 58 percent of the stock, and he expects that all the stock will be allocated to the employees by 2001.
Madison said the company had its biggest order backlog in its history — peaking at $8 million — during the past year. Madison expects annual sales to approach $11.5 million. He looks at steady growth, between 8.5 and 10 percent a year, as the goal for the coming years.
``The closure business is rapidly consolidating. It is becoming a global business,'' said Edlund.
He used Coca-Cola Co. as an example, noting that the plastic Coke bottle cap is becoming standard throughout the world. That means the same mold can be used throughout the world to fashion those caps — adding up to lots more business for companies that can handle it.
``On a given year we do 25-50 percent of our business globally,'' said Madison. ``Our molds run in 21 different countries.''
Marland is doing its best to grow the business. It was ISO 9001-certified in April 1997 and has built a system to ensure that replacement parts will be available for its customers. Madison said this also helps in its global quest for business.
Part of the plan is to add new machinery. He said the firm is spending $600,000 for a machining center for the mold base department and a grinder. They will be put in use at the Pecks Road site and then moved to the new site when it is ready.
``We try to put 10 percent of annual sales into capital expenditures,'' said Madison.
It all means that Marland Mold is preparing for bigger projects and more sales.
The company earned the 1998 New England ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) Annual Award from a Washington-based trade organization. It also won in 1994.