SINGAPORE — Tech Group Inc.'s Asia-Pacific operational hub is experiencing major growth and capability enhancements, Neo Age Seng said in a March 26 interview at ASEANplas in Singapore.
``Despite the regional slowdown, we didn't see ourselves slowing down,'' said Neo, managing director for custom injection molder Tech Group Singapore Industrial Pte. Ltd. and mold maker Omni Mold Ltd. Both are in Singapore.
Here are parts of his agenda:
Construct a 13,000-square-foot facility and boost in-house mold-making capacity by July through a new Omni Mold subsidiary. In April 1998, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based parent Tech Group acquired 19.5 percent of Omni Mold. ``We want to keep the tooling together'' and meet a need for high-cavitation molds, Neo said. Omni Mold employs 125 and had 1998 sales of US$9 million.
Evaluate sites and decide within a year on establishing another high-end molding facility in the region. ``We are looking at a plant in China,'' and exploring potential in the Philippines, Neo said. ``Some customers are driving us hard,'' possibly to mold electronic-transfer ``smart cards'' that Tech Group now makes in Mexico.
Anticipate the transfer by June 2000 of ``a pretty huge program in medical products'' from Tech Group's customer and engineering center in Scottsdale. ``That will pick up another 10 machines,'' Neo said. ``Over the next three years, we expect 50 percent of revenue to come from medical molding.''
Tech Group Singapore employs 128 and operates 40 injection molding machines with clamping forces of 35-280 tons. The operation has 14 Demag ETs, 12 Engels, eight Milacron Roboshots and six Toshibas.
``We need to get our core competency in Singapore before we talk about expansion, and that is why we are putting our investment in the toolroom in this area,'' Neo said.
Tech Group Singapore has invested $17 million in capital improvements over three years and plans to invest $20 million to $25 million in the next two years, Neo said. The amount includes the Omni Mold project and the proposed molding facility.
The new Omni Mold subsidiary, known as Tech Mold Singapore, indirectly is affiliated with high-cavitation mold maker Tech Mold Inc., a Tempe, Ariz.-based joint venture between Bill Kushmaul and Tech Group Inc.
Neo said Tech Group Singapore had 1998 sales of $11.3 million and expects $13 million this year. The 1997 figure was $6.7 million.
Seventy percent of molded parts go to final assembly sites in Southeast Asia, 20 percent to North America and 10 percent to Europe, Neo said. Major customers include Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Iomega Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.
Separately, Tech Group Singapore and Omni Mold received ISO 9001 certifications last year.
Worldwide, parent Tech Group Inc. has 12 manufacturing locations, operates more than 250 molding machines and had sales of $134.7 million for the fiscal year ended June 30.