Injection molder G.A.I.M. Engineering of Bensenville, Ill., relies on recycled resin, automation and innovative product development in fighting competition.
G.A.I.M. obtains recycled polymers primarily from a group of Chicago-area scrap brokers and sellers. The Illinois Recycling Association recognized the firm with an award last year.
Some applications that incorporate recycled plastics include the proprietary TotASak handles for retail grocery bags, which are made from heavily filled automotive nylon scrap and, for export, the Hand-lr handles, made from high density polyethylene pickle buckets. Grocery stores stock the impulse item, which is useful as a garage hanger, firewood or salt-block hauler and, for ranchers, a wire puller.
G.A.I.M. also makes and warehouses dozens of baby product lines for Standard Container Co.'s Badger Basket Co. unit in Edgar, Wis., and created and produces a popular pest-control device made from polycarbonate automotive headlamp covers for Bird-X Inc. of Chicago.
The company also helped PVC extruder Regenex Corp. of West Middlesex, Pa., with an innovative bit of design.
In talking at a trade show, G.A.I.M. President Skip Glatt learned about the failure of a vinyl deck clip that Regenex had made in China. An order of 50,000 pieces was worthless.
``The snap-track system needed to be of a high-performance material like nylon 6,'' Glatt said. ``I built a two-cavity mold,'' and now G.A.I.M. makes the clips for Regenex.
``Customer satisfaction is not good enough in our book,'' Glatt said. ``Our concern is the client.''
Glatt, also the company's owner, is adamant about quality and keeping business in the United States. Where needed, he said that the company molds walls thicker and subsidizes a client's tooling costs, in part using funds that might have gone for advertising.
``We are adaptable,'' Glatt said in a recent telephone interview.
G.A.I.M. employs 14 at its leased 13,700-square-foot facility. G.A.I.M. had 2003 sales of $1.4 million, and Glatt expects to approach $2 million this year.
G.A.I.M. is nearing ISO 9001: 2000 certification and intends to pursue ISO/TS 16949.
Glatt, 53, started in the industry with his family's Keolyn Plastics Inc. in Mount Prospect, Ill. Among other jobs, Keolyn molded dish racks. In 1988, the business was sold to commercial storage products maker Amco Wire Products.
Glatt remained with Amco for two years. In 1991 he set up a new molding operation called G.A.I.M., for Glatt Aided Injection Molding. G.A.I.M. Plastics Inc. does business as G.A.I.M. Engineering.
G.A.I.M. operates 15 Niigata, Toyo and Van Dorn presses of 55-330 tons and is moving toward more electric-operated presses.
Since 2000, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity along with a predecessor agency has supplied G.A.I.M. with four grants exceeding $460,000 for injection molding equipment, robotic systems, quality control enhancement and employee training.
The firm uses 10 Mark II beam-traverse robots and, in January, added a system of eight color day-night surveillance cameras under a three-year lease-purchase agreement. Glatt aims to run lights-out manufacturing.
Glatt was the 2000-01 president of the Society of Plastics Engineers' Moldmaking and Mold Design Division and 1985-86 Chicago Section president.