Thomson Plastics Inc. is eyeing expansion in Georgia and rebuilding the business base of a once-closed California injection molding plant. "We will be aggressively growing both plants," said Jerry Harrison, vice president and general manager. "We want to do more value-added applications" such as subassembly and component testing.
The firm plans to add 30,000-50,000 square feet at its 13-acre Thomson, Ga., site by mid-2001 and holds an option on nearby space. Thomson enlarged the plant in late 1998, more than doubling the size to 62,000 square feet.
"We just got some new work from Briggs & Stratton [Corp.] involving changes from metal to plastic," he said. "We will supply their Statesboro, Ga., plant." Production will begin in January.
In California, Thomson bought AB Plastics Corp.'s assets, including a plant, equipment and 8 acres in Gardena, for more than $9 million Oct. 15.
Financially troubled Compass Plastics & Technologies Inc. had closed the Gardena operation June 4.
Prior to buying the plant, Thomson had been looking at building a plant in Corona, Calif., Harrison said. Operations in Gardena resumed Nov. 1 as Thomson Plastics Inc.-West, initially molding parts for Trojan Battery Co. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
Thomson West employs 65, all formerly with AB Plastics, and runs as a satellite plant. Stephen Adams, a grandson of AB Plastics' founder, is in charge of operations.
"We are taking a look at what AB Plastics was good at," Harrison said. Mostly, that involved computer monitors in transition to Mexico processing sites.
Thomson West has 24 paint booths and gas assist, electronic shielding, hot stamping and pad printing capabilities.
"Basically, we are pursuing other custom business in the West," Harrison said. The 100,000-square-foot plant has 15 presses of 60-1,800 tons and a 75,000-square-foot distribution facility adjacent to it.
Meanwhile, Thomson is producing "one of the largest gas-assisted injection molded canopies in the world," according to John Heasman, international technical sales manager for Cinpres Ltd. in Ann Arbor, Mich. Club Car Inc. of Augusta, Ga., uses the part on a new golf cart.
Thomson molds the 42-inch-by-60-inch canopy on a 2,200-ton Milacron press using low-pressure technology licensed from Cinpres Ltd. of Tamworth, England. Heasman said the clamping force is about 1 ton per square inch. "Conventionally, you need 3 tons to the square inch," he said.
The canopy is molded with 20 percent-filled calcium-carbonate high-impact polypropylene from Montell NV and has no secondary operations.
"The canopy replaces a vacuum-formed piece with many secondary operations including drilling and trimming," Harrison said. "Our part comes off the press with the holes punched and a nice aesthetic design. And it handles water well." Production started in January.
Thomson also uses gas assist in molding the cart's armrests with a 30-percent-filled nylon from Honeywell Inc.'s performance polymers business unit.
Harrison wants the cart shown in Honeywell, Montell and Cinpres exhibits at NPE 2000, June 19-23 in Chicago. Club Car is a division of Ingersoll-Rand Co. of Woodcliff Lake, N.J.
The Milacron unit was among eight presses that Thomson acquired last year, bringing the Georgia plant to 21 machines of 75-2,200 tons. The plant employs 140.