Buoyed by growing medical business, injection molder Cycles Inc. is opening a facility near its Sterling headquarters and next year may put a plant in Tijuana, Mexico, its first operation outside the United States.
The small company has seen its telecommunications and electronics business migrate offshore in the past couple of years, but Cycles executives hope the move to a new, 77,000-square-foot plant and a push into Mexico will pay off with increased business from medical manufacturers, including in the drug-delivery market.
The Sterling plant will more than triple the firm's existing space and give Cycles room for more sophisticated manufacturing cells and automated operations, said Paul Nickerson, vice president of sales and marketing. He spoke during an Oct. 23 interview at the company's headquarters.
The new Massachusetts plant has about 8,000 square feet of white-room molding space for medical applications, generally for presses larger than 150 tons, and includes room for larger toolmaking, warehousing and operations like insert and two-shot molding. The upgrades are needed to remain competitive, Cycles said.
``If we don't have these resources, then we're not going to be in a position to secure the accounts we're pursuing right now,'' said Larry Costello, New England sales manager.
About 80 percent of the firm's business is medical, up from about 50 percent three years ago. Even as the firm's telecommunications and other business has shrunk, its overall sales have grown, from $7.5 million in 1998 to about $11 million now, Nickerson said.
The company plans to have the Mexican plant up and running in 2004, possibly as early as the first quarter, he said. While nothing has been finalized, and company officials spent several years pursuing options for the Sterling plant, Nickerson said the company's plans for Mexico have moved quickly.
The firm will spend about $2 million on the expansions, not counting the mortgage to buy the new building. About $1.5 million was spent to upgrade the Sterling plant, and $500,000 is targeted for Mexico, Nickerson said.
Like the company's existing manufacturing space, the new Sterling plant can be upgraded to a certified clean room, Costello said. The site will have seven presses, giving the company 32 total.