ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Optical and custom molder MXL Industries Inc. has expanded its Chicago-area plant, in response to growth in its custom molding business.
MXL bought a 55,000-square-foot plant in December in Downers Grove, Ill., and added three injection presses, giving it a total of 12 there, said Matthew O'Connell, MXL's vice president of sales. Previously, it was in a 15,000-square-foot factory in Westmont, Ill.
MXL is in the optical molding market, making polycarbonate visors for pilot and motorcycle helmets and safety glasses in a clean-room-like environment at its Lancaster, Pa., headquarters.
But the optical market is generally mature, so MXL is looking for custom molding and the Illinois operation to increase its sales, which currently are at about $10 million a year, O'Connell said.
MXL experienced a bit of an earnings shock in 1996 when its largest customer cut orders, dropping its sales from $10.9 million to $8.7 million, according to MXL's parent GP Strategies Inc. of New York, in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But MXL sought other business and recovered most of that ground in 1997, finishing with $10.3 million, the firm said.
O'Connell disclosed the expansion during an interview at the Pacific Design Engineering Show, held in conjunction with the Medical Design and Manufacturing West '99 show in Anaheim from Jan. 26-28.
The Chicago plant molds such products as computer-keyboard wrist supports, printer stands, compact disc case holders and small appliance components. The facility also has a mold-making operation that builds tools for both plants, he said.
The Chicago plant is adding presses of 350, 500 and 1,000 tons, and has machines ranging from 70-1,000 tons.
The Lancaster facility, by comparison, has five presses ranging from 250-440 tons, along with two self-contained dip-coating lines and a spray-coating line for adding anti-abrasion and anti-fogging materials, O'Connell said.
MXL employs about 80.
Publicly traded GP owns companies in a variety of industries, but MXL is its only plastics operation. GP is focusing on its work-force training subsidiary, General Physics, GP said in SEC filings.