DETROIT — Flambeau Corp., a blow molder and injection molder based in Baraboo, Wis., is crossing the Pacific by adding a technical service representative in Osaka, Japan.
The firm also plans to increase its presence in Detroit by adding five sales representatives in West Bloomfield, Mich., by mid-1999.
The Osaka representative is being added to give Flambeau more direct contact with its several Japanese automaker and electronics and communications customers, according to Joseph Joyner, the firm's corporate marketing manager.
Although Flambeau molds products for Japanese clients in the United States, most of the engineering and design work is done in Japan, making it difficult for companies such as Flambeau to have any input in the process. Having a rep in Japan will allow Flambeau to meet with customers to discuss design before production begins, Joyner said.
``We'll be more successful if we're in there in the first inning of the game,'' Joyner said in an interview at SAE '99, held March 1-4 in Detroit. ``That way we can do more resin testing and product testing.''
At SAE, Flambeau displayed blow molded heating, ventilation and air-conditioning parts, air ducts and seat panels and injection molded HVAC parts, knob assemblies and wire harnesses. Joyner said automotive is one of Flambeau's largest end markets, although he declined to say what percentage of the company's overall sales are automotive-based.
Flambeau operates more than 120 injection presses and almost 90 blow molding machines at sites across the United States. The company reported North American sales of $160 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, including $86 million in blow molding sales.