Toolmaker Modular Molding International Inc.'s investment in overseas capabilities is paying off, with the company settling into larger settings and continuing to hire employees.
The company moved into an 18,000-square-foot building in Clearwater, Fla., in November, leaving behind a rented, 9,000-square-foot facility in nearby Largo, Fla. It has boosted employment to 25 from 14 just four years ago and executives are anxious to add more capabilities.
``I want to increase our engineering and design department,'' said Don Towery, a vice president and partner, during an Aug. 24 telephone interview. ``I've got a lot more opportunities out there, but you have to able to bring more of the engineering design in-house.''
Modular Molding had about $3 million in sales for 2002, and Towery expects to hit about $3.2 million this year.
The business, which began as M&M Industries in 1991, specializes in injection molds for the automotive industry. Towery bought into the company in 1999, following an extended stint in Taiwan and mainland China with electronics connector maker AMP Inc.
In Asia, he had helped to build a base of mold makers in the region for AMP. Once with Modular Molding, he set about using those contacts to marry the engineering capabilities in the United States with lower-cost labor available in Asia.
MMI oversees the engineering and conditioning in the United States and works with toolmakers in Taiwan who must meet North American standards. The U.S. company is specific about the type of steel used and even brings its Taiwanese partners in for 30-day sessions in Florida to provide trouble-shooting training.
``[Customers] get full U.S. support, full U.S. design and engineering and they don't have to deal with the language barrier or the difference in time zones,'' he said.
At the same time, the company has created its own proprietary modular quick-change system that allows it to turn out prototype molds in as little as three weeks. MMI has two standard frames and sets of modular parts that allow it to turn out tools at a fraction of the cost of standard production - even undercutting the costs of an Asian-made system for some contracts, Towery said.