AUBURN HILLS, MICH. — Automotive injection molder Rapid Product Technologies LLC has gone on a growth spurt, buying three facilities in the past year. As a result, Chief Executive Officer Manu Bhatia and President Miguel A. Linares expect 2000 sales to hit $35 million, up from $3.5 million in 1999.
The partners say growth was needed to keep up with customer demand.
"We looked at our strategies for where we wanted to be in the future, and we knew we were not big enough to deal with our customers," Bhatia said. "We went on an acquisition path."
Rapid Product bought the former NuTech Plastics Engineering — an injection molder in Grand Blanc, Mich.; and a shuttered 3DM site in Madison Heights, Mich., and its sister paint shop in Clinton Township, near Fraser, Mich. With those purchases, Rapid Product now can meet buyers' needs, he said.
"We carefully analyzed where we wanted to be," Bhatia said. "Yes, we do have challenges, but that's not a problem. Challenges are good. We are at a decent size where we can control our growth."
"We didn't have the capacity or the space to get some contracts," Linares added.
Bhatia and Linares formed a partnership last year to expand the 9-year-old firm in Auburn Hills.
The company now has 45 presses, up from seven a year ago. The machines have clamping forces of 85-3,000 tons. The certified minority-owned supplier also has its own in-house toolmaking facility and a prototyping line that can turn out a sample within two weeks, Linares said.
"Most of the injection molders have to send out when they have tooling problems," he said. "That takes time."
Rapid Products also has engineering offices in the metro Detroit area and India, using satellite access to provide around-the-clock design.
India offers top-notch engineers at lower wages, allowing the business to save as much as 30 percent, Bhatia said. One office already is open in Chandigarh with 22 employees, and a 48-employee engineering office will open later this year in New Delhi.
Rapid Products aims to market itself as a business than can handle any technology for any part, Bhatia said. The company will have units devoted to interior trim, exterior trim and under-the-hood pieces.
The partners expect to introduce new product lines soon, offering new molding technologies and a mixture of materials.
"We are a technology-oriented company," Linares said. "There are thousands of molders who shoot-and-ship. We can offer something else."