Mold texturing specialists Complete Surface Technologies Inc. launched 11 years ago with three people operating from a rented, 2,000-square-foot building.
Now the business has 42 workers, just doubled its main building to 32,000 square feet, is launching its first facility in Windsor, Ontario, and has contracts in hand to oversee the grain and texture of entire auto interior systems.
``We started just by throwing stuff up against the wall to see what would stick,'' Pete Ruggirello, vice president and a founding partner, said during an Oct. 15 interview at the company's headquarters near Mount Clemens.
The business actively went after work with the large number of toolmakers in Windsor and has pursued automakers by bringing their design specialists in-house to give them a thorough understanding of the business's acid etching for molds and other specialties.
CST also has in-house polishing, benching, welding, glossing and preventative mold maintenance.
``Our future looks great now in terms of the business we're doing with the domestic automakers,'' Ruggirello said.
New program wins in 2002 pushed the firm's sales to $4.02 million from about $3.3 million a year earlier. CST expects to add about three people at its corporate office, in addition to the 12 that will join when the Windsor site is fully operational. The company anticipates a 30 percent boost in sales in 2004, said Larry Taylor, manager of technical services.
The company also maintains a full-time office in Rockford, Mich., and has eight traveling technicians assigned to on-site mold repairs. It works with direct original equipment manufacturers in the auto, office furniture, consumer appliance and home products industries, as well as mold makers and molders.
Increasing emphasis in the auto industry to coordinate the grain and pattern on interior components - improving the overall look of the plastic trim - has meant new opportunities for CST and its competitors to influence pending designs early on.
CST is involved now in planning production on vehicles set to launch in 2004, 2005 and 2006 in addition to prototype work aimed at a 2007 model. The expansion at the corporate headquarters includes workspace for customers that want to follow their molds through the texturing process.
``The aesthetic harmony issue really comes up when you're dealing with all the different tools, knowing how they're going to react with steel or different metals,'' said sales manager Gordon Pinger. ``We have to have a real understanding of what's going on. We're the last guys to handle those tools before they go into production.
``The texture can make it look good or can make it look mediocre.''
That responsibility and the pressure that comes with it makes for a relatively small number of competitors, said President Louis Scaccia.