HAYWARD, CALIF. — Traditional open molder Acme Fiberglass Inc. is evolving in processes, space and talent.
"I am focusing on the closed-mold system and field service," Chief Executive Officer William Gonsalves III said during an interview at the Hayward company.
Closed-mold work controls environmental emissions and part thickness better and makes more efficient use of materials than open molding, he said.
The firm is adding 5,000 square feet of space — beyond the current 20,000 square feet — and negotiating to purchase an adjacent industrial lot.
Acme continues to use open molds, but Gonsalves recognizes the need for higher-margin work and a manufacturing process of less interest to environmental regulators.
Resin transfer molding accounted for around 5 percent of Acme's $2.5 million in sales for the fiscal year ended July 31. Gonsalves forecasts $3.2 million this year, with about 25 percent from RTM.
Production of land- and ship-based radar domes accounts for about one-third of the firm's business. The domes range in diameter from 24-168 inches. Sixteen pie-shaped pieces form the largest model.
Walk-in safety showers with floor sensors account for another 20 percent. Regulators require processors of industrial chemicals to have the specialized showers. Stepping onto the floor activates the water pressure. The customer installs the plumbing gear.
The dome and shower customers are growing fast and shipping globally.
"We try to meet their demands and become efficient so it is not worth it for them to bring it in-house," he said.
Acme ventured back into RTM about a year ago.
"It is not a new procedure," said president and co-owner Benjamin Zamora. "We did RTM and vacuum bagging years ago."
Opportunity knocked in December when Pinnacle Composite Solutions of Livermore, Calif., was forced into liquidation. Acme purchased four small-platen RTM presses, a 5-foot-by-9-foot vacuum table and a material-cutting machine.
The equipment, now mostly in storage, will go into the new buildings, probably by April.
Acme uses clamp-and-toggle RTM systems. A high-volume, low-pressure Magnum RTM pump feeds material for electric car components, and a low-volume, high-pressure Venus RTM pump does the job for smaller medical parts, Hambrook said.
Last year, Acme acquired two nonatomizing Magnum FIT chopper guns for open-mold spraying and another Magnum FIT chopper for closed-mold work.
Acme began providing regular field services in early 2000. So far, the largest project has involved ducting for a plating shop.
Shop assets allow field-service personnel to evaluate a job, fabricate components in-house and complete the installation quickly, Gonsalves said. Repairs often must be completed quickly to return customers to full operations.
The firm employs about 35, up from 20 a year earlier. Acme recently named Todd Hambrook to oversee design, development and production for the RTM, vacuum-infusion and closed-mold processes.
Gonsalves is preparing to lose the full-time services of Zamora. Gonsalves intends to acquire Zamora's ownership half and retain him as an active consultant.
"I will be almost 100 percent active for at least the next year," said Zamora, who joined the business in 1957.
The CEO is the youngest grandchild and a namesake of William Gonsalves Sr., who founded the business in 1954 with Herb Frank.
Gonsalves trained to become a certified public accountant, joined Acme in 1987 and became CEO in August 1999.