As Penda Corp. works to grow thermoforming sales beyond its truck bedliner base, it also is considering investing in new processing for its smaller composites line.
``Our focus as a company is on keeping the truck accessory business growing ... but building next to it with a new platform ... in both composites and thermoforming,'' said Penda President Ulf Buergel in a June 1 telephone interview.
Buergel joined Penda in March after a tenure as global business director for Dow Chemical Co.'s engineering plastics division.
He steps into the president's post as Penda builds on improvements it has made to its equipment in the past decade. The firm has added robotics and other automation, along with lean manufacturing principles, to win new contracts, he said.
``You can see the tremendous effort and progress made ... to get the process to the state where it's reproducible,'' he said.
On the composites side, Penda currently molds truck accessories such as tonneau covers and caps using an open mold, chopped-fiber system. The technology is flexible, allowing the firm to offer a variety of looks at relatively low costs.
Portage, Wis.-based Penda may add another production process, though, that would allow it to make higher-volume components, he said.
Thermoformed bedliners will remain at the heart of Penda, but Buergel said the company can expand to other transportation markets such as commercial vehicles, recreational vehicles and agricultural equipment.
``At the same time, we want to evaluate and get into some completely unrelated areas,'' he said. ``Home appliances is a market where there are opportunities for large thermoformed parts, or large-screen televisions, which have requirements for large casings.''