The worsening economic climate in the toolmaking sector is hitting two of its long-standing players, with one 52-year-old firm set to close and an even older company downsizing.
Hunt Machine & Manufacturing Co. of Tallmadge, Ohio, will close by the end of August. Practical Machine Co. of Barberton, Ohio, plans to sell off much of its equipment and consolidate into a smaller operation in an attempt to survive.
``They're dropping like flies around here,'' said Gordon Van Hyning, who owns the 58-year-old Practical Machine.
Van Hyning said he is still trying to determine exactly how big Practical will be once he reshapes the 36-employee company.
Hunt Machine will live on in a sense, said Hunt President Dave Hunt. Prospect Mold Inc. of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, is set to buy some assets, take over some existing contracts and customers and hire about two-thirds of the 46-employee staff to bolster its own capabilities.
``That's the silver lining to the gray cloud, if there is one, that this will bring a new size and scope for Prospect that will allow it to do more for its customers,'' Hunt said. ``We're taking the best of both companies together.''
Both Hunt and Practical Machine have been hurt by the changing conditions in the mold-making business - losing contracts to China and other low-cost countries while also trying to earn profit from the decreasing number of jobs remaining in the United States.
Van Hyning said he has had automotive customers demand 15 percent cost cuts, plus rebates for work done in previous years.
Hunt noted that some payments have been drawn out for so long that mold makers end up carrying the bulk of the costs to finance molds for their customers.
``This is just another company that has unfortunately succumbed to the economic conditions,'' he said.