Ohio-based G.I. Plastek Inc. plans to build an Iowa factory to get closer to a key market: customers that make farm equipment and earthmoving vehicles.
That market accounts for about a quarter of G.I. Plastek's sales, according to Steve Trapp, vice president of strategic business development. He said the company expects to pick a location by May or June. The plant will be about 50,000 to 75,000 square feet and have eight to 12 molding machines, he said.
``We are going to have a site by the second quarter. We will have a plant constructed by the third quarter, and it's going to be in operation by the fourth quarter,'' Trapp said in a Feb. 25 interview.
The factory — G.I. Plastek's first to house both injection molding and reaction injection molding machines — will serve nearby customer plants such as Deere & Co. in Moline, Ill., Waterloo, Iowa, and Horicon, Wis.; Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria and De Kalb, Ill.; and Case Corp. in Burlington, Iowa, East Moline, Ill., and Racine, Wis. Other customers with plants in the region include lawn mower supplier Toro Co. and appliance maker Frigidaire Co., Trapp said.
G.I. Plastek currently runs injection molding plants in Marysville and Bellville, Ohio, and a reaction injection molding operation in Newburyport, Mass. Those plants are running near full capacity, Trapp said.
Once dominated by metal, the agriculture/construction equipment market has been moving steadily to plastics for such parts as roofs and fenders. Trapp said G.I. Plastek's expertise with in-mold color coating of large RIM parts has helped it gain more business from those companies. The company now calls its in-mold RIM technology ProTek Systems.
In other news, G.I. Plastek continues to add large-press capacity at its Marysville factory. The company has spent about $5 million on three big Mitsubishi injection molding machines. A 3,300-ton press was delivered late last year. Two weeks ago, Mitsubishi installed a 2,200-ton machine. G.I. Plastek also plans to add a 2,800-ton press.
Before buying those presses, the company topped out at 1,600 tons.
Trapp said G.I. Plastek needs the large machines to mold industrial products, such as postal boxes, big-screen television cabinets and other electronic products.
G.I. Plastek, based in Elyria, Ohio, generated 1998 sales of $67 million, a 17.5 percent increase over $57 million in 1997, according to Trapp.