Mold maker and molder Mercury Tool & Mold Inc., which was founded in 1966, is going out of business and auctioning off its assets March 4.
``Our customers are going to China. We are told that if we can't give China prices, then don't quote it,'' owner and President Kevin Moran said in a telephone interview.
Moran said the business environment for mold makers is extremely difficult. Also, the Milford, Conn., company has been hard hit by consolidation of its customers.
Mercury lost a key customer when Pfizer Inc. recently sold the Schick-Wilkinson Sword business to Energizer Holdings Inc., and Energizer moved the business.
Other customers have told Moran that they are postponing capital expenditures until next year. He said a lot of customers are waiting to see what happens with the possible Iraq war.
``Our molding continues to support the company, but our tooling is down to nothing,'' Moran said.
The firm invested $450,000 in machinery in 2000 to boost its high-speed machining and rapid-prototyping abilities and to take advantage of opportunities in the medical field. At the time it had 15 employees.
Moran said his employee total rose to 20, but when the company closed Feb. 28, it was down to two. Most of the employees have found other work, he said, but added he is not optimistic about the future of the industry.
``Back in 1978 when I was looking for work, the paper was full of manufacturing jobs, but there's not one ad today,'' said Moran, 43, who plans to take a month off to ponder his future.
He said he tried to get state and federal help to stay in business, but was disappointed and disillusioned by the lack of help available to manufacturers losing business to the Far East.
The auction is being handled by Capital Recovery Group of Enfield, Conn.