When Chuck Hamley told people at the local chamber of commerce and Wisconsin banks that he was starting up a new extrusion company, some people thought he was joking.
While service industries are launching all the time in Hamley's native state, manufacturing had not been a hot area for entrepreneurs for several years. But Hamley's new company, Advanced Extrusions Inc. of Franklin, Wis., is out to prove there is a market for new producers of manufactured tubing and profiles.
``I felt like an oddity at first,'' Hamley said in a May 13 telephone interview. ``We were surrounded by service companies, and we were the only new manufacturer to come along in quite some time. But that's OK with us.''
Opening April 2, the company has pinned its hopes on being a bit of an anomaly, a specialty business that keeps its prices low by not growing too quickly. Hamley, who has more than 15 years of experience with extrusion companies, said his new business is almost a boutique manufacturer.
``It will target some accounts for custom tubing and profiles,'' Hamley said. ``But we're going to stay small.''
The company leased a 7,000-square-foot building in Franklin, Wis., and has launched production with one monolayer extrusion line. A second line is expected within 90 days, and the company hopes to double that total as soon as business picks up.
Advanced Extrusions will make products for lawn and garden and point-of-purchase displays and also might branch into automotive, housewares and other areas. Its outdoor products include tubing for landscaping, lawn edging and irrigation equipment, using an array of materials.
The firm also plans to offer secondary operations, such as drilling and heat sealing, and product development and research support.
Right now, the company has four employees, including Hamley and his brother, Mark, who acts as sales manager. It will hire more workers as business grows.
Hamley got the bug to open his own company while working for other profile extruders. For the past dozen years, he was employed at Applied Plastics Inc., another small company based in Oak Creek, Wis.
He started in the industry filling hoppers and organizing material, a job he held when he first worked at Lakeland Plastics Inc. of Mundelein, Ill. At Applied Plastics, he moved to line operator, then eventually shifted into sales and became development director.
But Chuck Hamley said he has wanted to open his own shop for the past three years.
``I felt that it would be time when my own economic [condition] and the greater economy could handle a new face in the crowd,'' he said.
He said he expects Advanced to generate about $250,000 in sales its first year. But business could ramp up quickly, especially from customers in Illinois and Wisconsin, he said.
``We're actually going to turn a profit in our second month,'' he said.