Bemis Manufacturing Co. is expanding its Canadian operation into custom injection molding and the company is building a plant in Monterrey, Mexico.
Bemis' Barrie, Ontario, facility, which molds casual furniture and polypropylene toilet seats, will branch into engineering resins. The Barrie operation is moving into a new, 300,000-square-foot plant to make the transition.
``The new facility gives us the ability to respond more quickly and efficiently to our customers' needs, raising our level of customer service,'' Dick Bemis, president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.
Bemis in Barrie sold four of its older injection presses and relocated four from the United States, according to Canadian plant manager Tom Smith. It now has nine injection presses with clamping forces to 2,000 tons. Its presses, all Milacron hydraulics, have been updated and Barrie has acquired new materials-handling systems, robots and other support systems.
Bemis already does custom molding at its Sheboygan Falls, Wis., headquarters plant for office furniture, automotive, appliance and outdoor power equipment customers, said spokeswoman Margaret Harper.
Bemis expects to open the Monterrey plant in the spring, according to Harper. She would not disclose start-up costs. With more than 40,000 square feet of space, the operation will mold toilet seats and other products for Latin America.
``The intention is not to take business away from U.S. operations,'' Harper said in a telephone interview.
The Barrie operation is moving into a new facility that is climate-controlled and five times larger than its previous one. Bemis acquired the older plant in 1989 when it bought toilet-seat molder Moldex Seat Co. Harper said she expects the move to be completed in November. She did not disclose the cost of the expansion and relocation.
Bemis said in a news release that it implemented a paperless warehousing system in Barrie last year. Each forklift truck has a built-in computer to register transactions by scanning bar codes. The system gave Barrie the highest service rating of all Bemis plants.
Bemis is the largest toilet-seat molder in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Its seats division injection molds in Sheboygan Falls, Barrie, and Burnley, England. It entered the plastic seat market about 30 years ago and has expanded through acquisition. It also makes seats from wood and other materials.
Privately held Bemis was established in 1901 to produce wooden products such as sleds and wagons. It since has expanded into seats, custom molding, housewares, casual furniture, home comfort, health care, garden products and vinyl gutters. Harper would not disclose annual sales.