Injection molder Ironwood Plastics Inc. has opened a $2 million technical center, with hopes to build an even bigger development site eventually.
The family-operated business originally considered a more extensive project, said Vice President Scott Stephens, but also took into consideration warnings of a slowdown in the economy.
So rather than build from the ground floor, the company bought a vacant 6,000-square-foot site next door to its 45,000-square-foot main operation in Ironwood, Mich.
"This gives us a little relief in space, without committing to a large expansion right now," Stephens said.
Ironwood Plastics operates around-the-clock with more than 150 employees. It posted $11.6 million in sales in its last fiscal year, with about half of its business as a Tier 2 supplier to the auto industry, molding components for fuel systems.
The business also has reel-to-reel molding capability for customers in the consumer electronics market and its own mold- making shop.
Ironwood has a second, small facility in Two Rivers, Wis., but simply was running out of space at its main site, Stephens said. The new facility once housed a laundry, which closed because of a fire. The building was repaired and renovated, but the laundry business never moved back in, he said.
It now houses two presses, with clamping forces of 250 tons and 150 tons. Ironwood has a total of 27 presses.
The technical center will focus on research and development and prototyping new molds and projects. Stephens expects adding separate lines for product samples and testing will improve productivity by up to 15 percent.
If the technical center proves its worthiness, the company will raze it to make room for a larger, attached building — possibly by 2002.