Blow molding equipment supplier Jackson Machinery Inc. (Booth N5761) might be small in stature, but it is growing larger in international presence.
The 20-employee company just signed a joint venture agreement to manufacture machines in China at a new plant to be built near Shanghai, said President Robert Jackson at NPE 2003. The pact comes on the heels of another deal in Germany to make equipment for the European market.
The company also is attempting to make waves with an updated accumulator-head blow molding work cell that includes automatic part finishing. That system, used primarily for industrial parts, replaces the hammering, trimming and other handwork that must be done on many parts, Jackson said.
The company hopes to spread the reach of that machine to Asia by working with overseas partners, he said.
``A little company can do work globally just like the big guys, as long as the right partner is found,'' he said. ``In China, we don't look at the market with fear, but with a sense of opportunity. I'm surprised some of the larger companies in [blow molding equipment] haven't done that earlier.''
In fact, Jackson said most of his competitors, those making blow molding equipment for high density polyethylene containers, have not tapped China before now. One of the companies, York, Pa.-based Graham Machinery Group (Booth E9901), recently announced partnerships with two Asia-based companies to supply China and other parts of the Pacific Rim.
Jackson Machinery in Port Washington, Wis., just formed a 50-50 venture with several individuals now making injection molding equipment in China, Jackson said June 23. The yet-to-be-named venture plans to open a plant to make blow molding equipment by year's end in Ningbo, China, about 300 miles from Shanghai, he said.
The Wisconsin company will ship an accumulator-head machine to the China plant for sale to customers in that market and will make similar machines at the facility, he said.
Jackson said he also plans to transfer the firm's technology to the China operation. In turn, the Ningbo-based venture will perform metalworking, shipping metal parts to Jackson Machinery for use on its existing machines. The Ningbo plant will start with 5,000 square feet but can be expanded to more than five times that size once it gets off the ground, he said.
The company planned to enter the Asian market earlier this year. But the SARS epidemic delayed those plans temporarily. With travel alerts to China expected to wane, the project started again in early June, he said.
The company also has a venture with Dusseldorf, Germany-based MBK Group to provide suction blow molding equipment in Europe, Jackson said. The equipment is used to make automotive and industrial parts that require both hard and soft finishes and more flexible structures, he said.
The stronger currency valuation of the euro, compared with the U.S. dollar, should enhance sales in that region, he said. The venture was signed two years ago but now is launching equipment in Germany, he said.
The company has upgraded its FlexiMatic accumulator-head machines to add automatic part finishing. The equipment can trim and deflash parts without the need for manual labor, Jackson said. The need for hand trimming has set back industrial blow molding until now, he said. ``This really hasn't been done before,'' he said.
The firm does not want to compete against its much larger rivals, but instead wants to gain a presence as a supplier of equipment for sometimes-troublesome specialty parts that usually are not blow molded, Jackson said.
Recently, Jackson Machinery has taken on such projects as a blow molded kayak and a decorative cluster of plastic rocks.