Taking on new types of business in a tough economy has paid off for Tessy Plastics Corp. with the expansion of its New York and China facilities.
The custom injection molder has completed a 60,000-square-foot expansion of its headquarters in Elbridge, N.Y., Joe Raffa, Tessy vice president and general manager, said in a speech at the Plastics News Executive Forum, held Feb. 1-4 in Summerlin. The company ripped out the walls of its 40,000-square-foot molding site to add manufacturing and warehouse space.
In January the company added eight all-electric injection presses from Sumitomo and Niigata, with clamping forces of 100-400 tons. Ten more presses are planned for this year, which will give the company 18 machines in the expanded facility.
Tessy is investing $5 million to $7 million for the building and equipment for the expansion, Raffa said. The facility will include a new toolroom for mold maintenance and an expanded quality laboratory, he said.
The expansion is part of a move into broader product categories for family-owned Tessy.
The company has ramped up its molding of medical housings and surgical devices and has entered the health and cosmetics market by molding deodorant containers and other products, Raffa said.
That business made up for some electronics and office equipment work that has moved offshore or declined in volume, he said. With the new products, sales again are rising after stalling in 2001.
The company has added 20 employees in Elbridge and plans to bring a total of 100 new workers to the facility, Raffa said. The company received a $500,000 grant from the state for the expansion, dependent upon the hiring of at least 100 workers, he said.
The new business also has spurred an equipment expansion at Tessy's wholly owned molding plant in Shanghai, China. The company now has 17 machines at the site, having added five presses there in the past year, Raffa said. The plant has expanded its product mix, moving into electrical connectors, business machines and lighting products. More than 100 employees now work at the 65,000-square-foot facility, he said.
The company added 25 new presses at its three plants in 2003, replacing some older equipment and adding several new pieces, he said. The firm now has 130 machines in Elbridge alone.
At the forum, Raffa spoke of the need for processors to become more focused on engineering. That leads to innovation and a premier seat at the table with customers, who sometimes reward new ideas whether they all work or not, he said.
Molders should reward engineering talent equally, he said. Unfortunately, too many companies do not place an emphasis on innovation, he said.
``It's the person who thinks of it in first place that sets the [company] apart,'' Raffa said. ``Creating an innovative culture breeds success. Like a quarterback who tosses a pass in the end zone once in a while, not all ideas are completed. But you don't just want a group of engineers; you want to have an engineering company.''
That approach can combat the flood of work to Asia, Raffa said. Engineering advances have led to automated equipment that reduces the need for labor, the main selling point of going to China, he said. And customers would rather consult with designers and engineers in North America than do that thousands of miles away, he said.
Even at Tessy, which has a thriving operation in Shanghai, design and engineering work mainly stays in Elbridge, Raffa said.
``An engineer must be the person who knows everything,'' Raffa said. ``Each engineer must be the pivot person, the go-to person, so there's no need to make as many adjustments later.''