Automotive supplier Regal Plastics Co. is spending money in the search for new business.
Regal invested about $1.25 million for a 1,550-ton press from Ube Machinery Corp. Ltd. and additional equipment, said President Ray Rogal. The press began operating in September and is the biggest all-electric press now in production in North America, according to Rogal.
``We'll be getting some new quote opportunities with this,'' Chairman William Pickard said Oct. 16 at Owosso-based Regal. ``This is going to be the catalyst for even more business and more new equipment.''
Regal has a total of 33 presses, with clamping forces starting at 130 tons. The company has put the new press to use on components for General Motors Corp.'s Saturn vehicles, including a grille opening. The 300-employee firm already has marked a 20 percent improvement in production time, even at the start of the workers' learning curve, said engineering manager Jim Minkwic.
Executives also credit John Coleman, electrical controls manager, for creating a robotics system to monitor parts on the line, equipment that has saved thousands of dollars, Pickard said.
The investment may represent more than just one business line, though. As automakers like GM look to pare down their list of suppliers, they will be seeking out companies that focus on the future, said Kevin Williams, executive director of supplier quality and diversification for Detroit-based GM.
Williams was on hand to deliver the automaker's Supplier of the Year award, which Regal has claimed for six straight years.
``We're going to be looking at who has the reputation, who has the management structure, who has the capital equipment in place that will make them a sustainable supplier into the future,'' he said.