A prominent Cincinnati resident who helped develop Pringles potato chips and an Underground Railroad museum is launching an injection molding company that he hopes eventually will provide opportunities for minority workers in the city.
Ed Rigaud, 61, plans to start Enova Partners LLC in May as a supplier to Toyota Motor Corp. and several Tier 1 auto companies. He would like the company to post $10 million to $20 million in annual sales within three years, he said March 17.
Rigaud holds a 55 percent ownership stake in the new company. Thom Gerdes, chief executive officer of Cincinnati-based Plastic Moldings Co. LLC, has a minority interest, as does one outside investor, Rigaud said.
Plastic Moldings will be a temporary partner and mentor as Enova gains expertise, Rigaud said. At first, Enova will mold parts at Plastic Moldings' 60,000-square-foot plant in Shelbyville, Ind., leasing space and equipment from the established company.
Later this year, Enova plans to purchase four or five injection presses and start work in a section of Plastic Moldings' Cincinnati plant, he said.
Within three years, Enova expects to operate its own facility in Cincinnati, possibly in an enterprise zone that offers tax incentives, and to hire about 100 employees, Rigaud said.
Gerdes is assisting Rigaud as much for community reasons as for business ones, he said March 17. Plastic Moldings, an automotive supplier of precision under-the-hood parts, would like to work with a minority-owned company that can make strides in the industry, he said.
But the fact that Rigaud has been a community pillar for years and wants to continue giving back is more of a lure, Gerdes said. When Rigaud told Gerdes that he wanted to become an entrepreneur, Gerdes spurred him to try injection molding.
``It will be just great if we play some role in the success of a minority-owned injection molder,'' said Gerdes, whose company is not minority-owned.
Rigaud spent most of his career at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. He joined P&G in 1965 as a biochemist. He eventually became director of research and development for P&G's food and beverage business and spent time in the personal-care unit.
While at P&G, he led the technical team that developed Pringles and other food products, Rigaud said. But he discovered late in life that he is a company builder at heart.
``I'm not afraid to build things,'' he said. ``As we look down the road, our target is to be a significant-size company in three years. I like the idea of creating something.''
In 1996, Rigaud took a leave of absence from P&G, working to start the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The museum opened last year on the Cincinnati riverfront.
Rigaud retired from P&G in 2001 but remains co-chair of the museum. He met Gerdes on other community boards and started thinking about entering manufacturing.
In a conversation with Toyota officials from nearby Georgetown, Ky., he was told that they would like to work with him as a supplier.
Rigaud, an African-American, could take advantage of the supplier development program offered by Toyota and others.
Enova primarily will make under-the-hood and fuel-system parts. Rigaud has met with several large suppliers, including Delphi Corp., to talk about potential work, he said.
Enova also is discussing a partnership with another company to make consumer products, which would be closer to Rigaud's work at P&G.
But those discussions are preliminary, he said.
``The key is providing jobs,'' he said. ``Because of my connections in the community here, I know a lot of major companies.
``I'd like to get people opening doors and have minorities be inspired by what is going on. It's a push-pull effect; if I push, the door may pull open.''