After 24 years in business, custom injection molder Texler Inc. has closed its doors. President Bill Tecco calls the Cleveland-area company a victim of assembly work leaving the United States.
``We had 30-some customers, and more and more were just switching their products they made overseas,'' he said in a telephone interview from the company in Macedonia, Ohio.
An auctioneer will pound the gavel April 24, selling off 20 Van Dorn injection molding machines, plus granulators, a water-cooling system, molds and the Texler toolroom.
Tecco, like some other custom molders these days, feels caught up in a global-economy whirlpool.
Peak employment at the plant was about 180 people. A year ago, Texler employed about 100, and that number had trickled down to 45 when the doors finally closed a few weeks ago.
He said Texler had a good reputation. Officials invested money back into the plant, but new, smaller molders took some work.
But the 54-year-old Tecco said what really hurt was customers moving work to Mexico and China. Why is Texler closing?
``You want two words? Bill Clinton,'' Tecco said. The North American Free Trade Agreement has a downside, he said. ``It's not that we can't be competitive, but the [original equipment manufacturers], our customers, are moving overseas.''
One big blow came when Sunbeam Corp. moved its Cleveland-area Mr. Coffee operation to Mexico in 2000. The coffee-maker assembly factory had been an important customer, Tecco said. Texler also used to mold for Rubbermaid Inc., but the relationship changed after Newell Co. bought the housewares giant in 1999.
``It was difficult to turn a profit. They kept squeezing you. You can't blame them, though. They're trying to make a buck, too,'' he said.
The molder also lost electrical-connector molding jobs and medical contracts when some of those customers moved to Puerto Rico, he said. Texler had a clean-room molding area in part of the plant.
``We put a ton of money back into the company to try and get other work into here to replace that work,'' he said. ``We just couldn't find it.''
Tecco was a hands-on president. He got his start in plastics as a young man helping out at Ankney Co., a Cleveland mold maker and molding shop. His father, Charles Tecco, was a tool and die maker at Bob Ankney's shop, which had rented space in Van Dorn Co.'s old injection press factory in Cleveland. Ankney moved to Twinsburg in the late 1960s.
Bill Tecco said he was a college dropout, working in the toolroom and running molding machines.
After Ankney died in the early 1970s, Cleveland-based Weatherhead Industries bought the company. It eventually became Weatherchem Inc., a molder of closures such as the Flapper top that dominates the market for shake-top Parmesan cheese. His father designed assembly machines for the closures, and developed some molds for shaker-top closures and a child-resistant closure.
Meanwhile, Bill Tecco went to Scott Industries in Cleveland, a new injection molding division of Lester Industries. He left to start Texler with several partners in 1978. Texler ended up buying Scott, he said.
After Bill Tecco and his partners founded Texler in 1978, his father left Weatherchem and joined the new molder.
Texler started in the Cleveland suburb of Bedford Heights, then expanded and moved to Solon. In 1990, Texler moved to its current 65,000-square-foot factory in Macedonia.
He realizes the tide of global trade is a strong one, maybe insurmountable. He doesn't have the answers, but said cheap labor is the lure - driven by Americans' appetite for cheap imported products.
``Until we bring wages up overseas, we're going to be hurting,'' he said.