Black River Plastics is going through a growth spurt, with four new injection molding presses, double the number of employees and a new blow molding joint venture preparing to launch.
To top it off, the Port Huron, Mich., company is considering further expansion, either through the purchase of an additional building or an acquisition.
The firm just received certification from the Michigan Minority Business Development Council as a minority business enterprise for Twin Rivers Technologies, its venture with Flambeau Corp., said Steven Fulgham, vice president of corporate development.
In addition, Black River is winning new contracts with automakers and auto suppliers that are providing it with a chance to flex new processing capabilities.
``We've seen our product mix grow from just functional black parts to interior trim and precision under-the-hood systems,'' Fulgham said. ``We're being given some real opportunities to grow.''
Faye Caballero, who was born and raised in the Philippines, bought Black River in early 2000 with the intent of increasing its volume and capabilities. The company now has about 100 employees, up from 45 when Caballero purchased the firm. Just in the past year it purchased four Van Dorn Demag presses, with clamping forces of 300-500 tons.
The first blow molding equipment for Twin Rivers is in place at Black River and the team is seeking bids. It has contracts set to launch production by spring, Fulgham said. Both firms are part of General Motors Corp.'s ``creativity team,'' designed to mentor minority-owned businesses.
``There is no doubt that our customer base wishes to purchase a greater number of parts from fewer suppliers,'' Caballero said. ``By adding blow molding to our technological base, our customers can rely on us as a single source for injection and blow molded components.''
Black River also has taken on lean manufacturing and improved its processing capabilities. Its three-person in-house design group now handles computer-aided design, Fulgham said.
``We feel pretty good to see growth happening here. Next year should be one of our best.''