MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. — Stoesser Industries Inc. will increase its clean-room operations and gain additional plastics processing space this year.
Plans call for four to six additional clean-room presses, including two more models with 50 tons of clamping force, then 85- or 120-ton units, ``depending on needs in the next couple months,'' President Bob Stoesser said in an office interview in Mountain View. He joined the business in 1988 after five years as an IBM manufacturing engineer.
The family-owned business focuses on the medical niche and other high-tolerance, high-volume production requiring a clean-room environment.
``The days of a company our size being everything to everybody are over,'' he said. ``Too many conglomerates [are] doing a fairly good job at it.''
Around the clock, the firm operates six 50-ton Van Dorns in a highly automated, Class 10,000 clean room.
The shop also operates 24 other injection presses as large as 500 tons, mostly Van Dorns acquired in the past five years.
Medical work requires ``a long learning curve [with] tight-tolerance molds'' and a very clean environment, Stoesser said.
The firm also molds electronics-related parts for Sega and Nintendo games, Metrotec metal detectors, Trimble navigation systems and Siemens computers.
Medical and computer-telecommunication niches each represent about 40 percent of Stoesser's molding output. Some parts go to the East Coast, Mexico or Germany for assembly.
Stoesser's injection molding and mold-making business increased 15 percent in fiscal 1998, which ended July 31, and has improved ``every year for the past five years,'' he said, declining to disclose sales figures.
Medical work, which has been in the shop for two decades, accounted for about 70 percent of the growth in the past three years, Stoesser said.
The operations employ 105, including six toolmakers and 70 in molding positions.
During 1998, Stoesser Industries agreed to sell a printing business that shares space with the plastics operation. The company also re-established a captive mold-making operation, terminating a joint venture.
Longtime customer Olec Corp. of Irvine, Calif., agreed in March to purchase the Stoesser Registration division, initially formed in 1983. Also, Olec agreed to take a 10-year lease on, and make tenant improvements to, a new, $2 million, 40,000-square-foot building that Stoesser plans to construct beginning in February.
Olec's relocation by September will free about 35,000 square feet in Stoesser's existing 80,000-square-foot plant for more assembly and automated molding of medical, consumer and food processing parts. A new Class 80,000 clean room will occupy 800 square feet.
Stoesser Industries and Garon Mold had formed a joint toolmaking venture, Stargate Technologies LLC, at Garon's Santa Clara, Calif., site in May 1997.
Stargate began experiencing problems after about six months, slowly wound operations down and dissolved in August 1998.
``It was pretty obvious [Stargate] wasn't going to work,'' Stoesser said. ``The physical separation was not good,'' and there was a control issue regarding day-to-day management. ``I won't ever do that again.''
The venture ``hoped to build molds for other molders, [but] once they found out it was part of Stoesser Industries, they didn't want to build here,'' he said. ``My goal as far as tooling is concerned is to stay small, stay controlled and continue operations in our facility for our purposes.''
Stoesser reassembled its equipment and toolmakers and purchased its fourth computer numerically controlled machining center.
An older brother, William J. Stoesser, is president of the registration division and will head the operation under Olec's ownership. Another older brother, Tom, heads Olec's northwest sales division. Their sister, Claire Werner, serves as Stoesser Industries' vice president of finance.
Company founder and patriarch William F. Stoesser, 77, originally a tool-and-die maker, consults regularly on business issues and handles special projects. Recently, the company named General Manager Mark Digiampietro to the board of directors. Stoesser Industries achieved ISO 9002 registration in 1994 and observed its 50th anniversary during 1998.