Home Products International Inc. has invested about $10 million to convert one of its facilities to injection mold storage products.
The firm began production Jan. 11 in the converted Chicago facility, said Steve Smith, vice president of operations for Tamor Corp., a Home Products subsidiary.
The products formerly were made by Tenex Corp. Home Products bought Tenex's business and molds late last year.
Smith said the upgraded plant, called Tamor Illinois, contains 19 new Milacron presses with clamping forces of 600-850 tons. The plant's manufacturing cells also include 11 robots, sourced through Milacron from various suppliers, Smith said by telephone.
The Chicago operation continues to run five presses that make Selfix bathroom storage products. But most molding of Selfix bathroom hooks and other accessories has been shifted to other Selfix operations and to custom molders in the United States and Mexico. The Chicago plant no longer does extrusion.
Home Products' investment includes new chilling and cooling-tower systems, materials-handling systems and electrical equipment. Smith said the project also includes a 100,000-square-foot distribution center, which is being built at the site and is scheduled to open in May.
The Chicago plant employs about 150 in three shifts, seven days a week. The distribution center will bring another 100 jobs.
Home Products acquired the Tenex storage product line and Newell Plastics last year to boost its stake in storage containers. The former Tenex business had annual sales of about $25 million and Newell Plastics' sales were about $70 million a year.
Tamor Illinois will mold and assemble rolling storage, stacking drawers, Simply Drawers, Kids Drawers, vanities and Compact Series storage products.
Smith said other Tamor plants in Leominster, Mass.; Louisiana, Mo.; and Thomasville, Ga., will not be affected by the opening of the Tamor Illinois facility. Tenex had been molding the storage products in Elk Grove, Ill., for Home Products while the latter renovated its Chicago operation. Through the Newell Plastics purchase, Tamor acquired two plants in St. Paul and Egan, Minn.
Home Products completely renovated the 180,000-square-foot Chicago plant to make it the firm's ``flagship operations facility,'' said Steve Brian, Home Products president and chief operating officer. Bernie Carlisle is operations director for the upgraded operation, which previously was dedicated to making Selfix products and Seymour laundry items.
Home Products has made six acquisitions in the past few years, boosting sales by a factor of 10 to about $300 million last year. The public company recently lined up new distribution channels, including international sales. Its Selfix and Seymour units supply products for bathrooms and laundry rooms; Tamor, Tenex and Newell Plastics focus on home storage and organization products. Its Shutters Inc. subsidiary makes plastic exterior shutters for the construction trade.