HiPer Technology Inc. has four new carbon-fiber/nylon composite wheels coming to market in the next 90 days, and is looking to become a public company.
The 4-year-old firm is known for its all-terrain vehicle wheels, but has a lot of new products on the horizon, according to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Douglas Baker. That's why HiPer purchased a 76,500-square-foot facility in Lawrence, Kan., that previously had housed a Honeywell International plant.
Baker said in a telephone interview that the company does not have an immediate need for the facility, but it is part of its long range plans, which include becoming a publicly traded company in three years to help finance its continued expansion.
HiPer Technology currently is headquartered in Lawrence and uses a highly automated, 12,000-square-foot facility in Armada, Mich., to manufacture carbon-fiber ATV wheels. As the company grows, it plans to move the operation to Lawrence, but the timetable still is being developed, Baker said.
The company has an exclusive-use agreement with DuPont Co. of Wilmington, Del., for DuPont's patented carbon-fiber material. HiPer's goal is to provide products designed to replace those currently made in aluminum. In the next 90 days, the firm will be offering a new ATV wheel, a micro-sprint car wheel, a junior dragster motorcycle wheel and a motocross wheel. Products expected in the next year include baseball and softball bats, a 15-inch automotive spare tire, and wheels for golf cart, marine trailers and mountain bikes.
Baker is a lawyer who has served as a county district attorney and state representative. He has been involved in leadership roles with companies that explore and develop precious metals, oil and gas.
Thomas A. Darnell, 33, the president and founder, worked as project manager for Ford Light Truck Development for Automotive Molding Co. of Warren, Mich., and later for Plastech Engineered Products Inc. of Dearborn, Mich. Darnell worked with DuPont to develop the material used in the energy-absorbing, impact-resistant wheels, and shared the patents with DuPont. DuPont has assigned the patents to HiPer.
Originally the wheels were manufactured by Pressure Plastics Inc. of Chesterfield, Mich., and were supplied to ATV professional circuit racers. In May 2002, Pressure Plastics went into bankruptcy, and HiPer Tech was forced to look for a new supplier. A second supplier was unable to meet the company's demand, so in July 2003, it became its own supplier, converting the Armanda, Mich., plant that it had been using for assembly. It now is producing 30,000 wheels a year.
``The material is lighter than aluminum, 2.7 times stronger than aluminum and five times tougher than aluminum. You can beat it with a sledge hammer,'' Baker said.