Sales for custom injection molder R&D Plastics LLC grew 25 percent last year, and the firm added a 90-ton Toshiba press in January.
``Several of our major customers grew, particularly in agricultural irrigation, computer backup memory and medical,'' said R&D Plastics President Rod Roth. The regional economy has improved ``according to about half of our Northwest customers,'' and the firm sold work to new customers mostly in consumer products and medical markets.
The Hillsboro firm employs 25 and operates 10 presses with clamping forces of 28-570 tons. R&D had 2002 sales of $3 million compared with $2.4 million the previous year.
In August 1996, R&D began offering seminars, often monthly, for educational and marketing purposes.
``Typically, we get buyers, quality personnel and mechanical engineers with no plastic design experience,'' Roth said via e-mail. ``We have had mold makers, material suppliers, competitors and even a banker. We try to keep the sessions between eight to 12 attendees.''
R&D instructors have taught versions of the seminar to plastics engineering and industrial design students at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., and to mechanical engineering students at the Vancouver, Wash., campus of Washington State University.
Sal Gonzalez, R&D vice president of operations, teaches classes through the plastics molding program offered by Portland Community College and the Plastics Education Consortium.
Roth, Gonzalez and Janet Evensen own R&D.