Owner Philip Meshberg abruptly closed Micro Molding Technologies LLC on April 9, but said he plans to maintain sister company Packaging Concepts Associates LLC.
The unexpected closure idled 45 Micro Molding employees and shuttered a bustling operation in the process of adding new programs for automotive and electronics customers. The businesses have shared a Meshberg-owned building in Boynton Beach, Fla.
Business at Micro Molding was booming, founder Michael Bentz said by telephone from his home.
``I was shocked'' at the closing, he said. ``When I heard Tuesday they were closing, I faxed a memo to buy it. I understand other people wanted to buy it.''
A written statement from Packaging Concepts said: ``Meshberg has numerous patents worldwide and wishes to concentrate on marketing these new developments. Plastic molding is not essential to achieve this objective.''
A March 28 reorganization at Micro Molding resulted in the dismissal of Bentz, who was president, and Blaine Priebe, vice president of operations. Larry Osborne, then vice president of manufacturing, was named interim general manager. Meshberg accountant Dennis Bleakley continued to function as Micro Molding's vice president of finance.
Micro Molding workers learned of the closing April 9, effective immediately. A skeleton crew began notifying customers to pick up molds and remaining product.
The firm began operating in January 1998. It had an automated factory, investing in upscale technologies including closed-loop controllers, advanced process monitors and computer-integrated manufacturing systems.
Among new work, Micro Molding was launching projects for automotive speaker grilles and components, dashboard components, and electronics bobbin and connector work. A year ago, managers at Micro Molding talked about adding 25,000 square feet to double its size, but the project never materialized. Meanwhile, Micro Molding acquired more equipment and ``shoehorned it in there,'' Bentz said.
Micro Molding had six injection molding machines with 20-400 tons of clamping force, worth about $2 million. It also had auxiliary equipment, secondary processing gear and other systems valued at about $1.5 million.
The firm had sales of $3.5 million for 2001, and Bentz projected $4.5 million to $6 million for the current year. Micro Molding's 2001 net loss was in the low six figures, Bentz said.
``Every year, our losses were going down,'' he added.
There was ``absolutely no reason for 45 people to lose jobs,'' Bentz said. The business ``should have been sold - and not closed.''
Bentz said his equity in the business was to be based on sharing Micro Molding's profit, a condition he expected to materialize this year.
Meshberg is a wealthy Palm Beach inventor and entrepreneurial investor in his 80s.
The April 11 South Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted Meshberg as saying that Micro Molding presented too much of a long-term problem and that he was leaving decisions about the next steps to his accountants.
The report said Meshberg intends to focus on his investment in Packaging Concepts, which was founded in 1993, employs 45 and manufactures pump spray closures.