CHICAGO (July 10, 4:30 p.m. EDT) — Six German companies have banded together to tap mold-making business from the U.S. market.
The companies include large mold makers Otto Deuschle Modell und Formenbau GmbH & Co. of Wernau, Germany; Schenk & Schmid Werkzeugbau GmbH of Schwendi, Germany; and Gerhard KlÃ¤ger GmbH of Dornstetten, Germany.
The group's effort is being coordinated by Fraunhofer USA, a Plymouth, Mich.-based subsidiary of one of Europe's largest contract research institutions, Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology of Pfinztal, Germany..
Fraunhofer USA had been based in Ann Arbor, Mich., before the recent shift to Plymouth.
The toolmaking venture actually started two years ago, but just started an aggressive marketing campaign in the United States. The alliance has a new name, Molds and More, and a new Web address, www.moldsandmore.com, said Lars Ziegler, Fraunhofer USA's manager for innovation and business development
The newly named company made its first U.S. public appearance during NPE 2000 in Chicago.
"My work is to assist mold-making companies that want to work with the United States," Ziegler said. "We now have legal status with a new name. From there, we're establishing a more independent marketing company for our toolmakers."
The toolmaker members primarily produce injection and compression molds, but also serve niche areas such as ceramic injection molding, stack molds and powder injection molding.
The six tooling companies also provide better strength through numbers to attack the U.S. market, said Thomas Schmid, president of Schenk & Schmid. Combined, the companies have about 700 employees and annual sales of $62.5 million.
"In Europe, we have built a stronger following for our work," Schmid said. "But we decided that if we put together a union of companies, we can find more business here than if each company tried to enter the United States on its own."
Fraunhofer USA officials attempt to match customers with the mold maker that can best handle a specific project, Ziegler said.
The German firms work with North American mold makers, in addition to original equipment manufacturers and molders. In one case, mold maker M2M International Inc. of Wallaceburg, Ontario, is working with Deuschle, said M2M account manager Gordon Pinger.
"By working with an established company, some of the liability we might face going to Europe can be avoided," Pinger said. "It's been nice to have a partner."
Another Molds & More member, EberspÃ¤cher Formenbau GmbH of Deizisau, Germany, has a joint venture with another Stuttgart, Germany-based tool shop in Cottondale, Ala. The companies have opened a 24,000-square-foot plant, known as Alabama Precision Mold LLC, with a third partner, Cottondale-based equipment supplier Smith's Machine, a division of HWS Enterprises Inc.