From its domestic base, Accumold Corp. competes effectively with Southeast Asia precision processors while adding equipment and boosting its workforce.
The Ankeny, Iowa, firm is experiencing increased demand for micro, miniature and insert molded parts, capturing some work previously done in China, India and Thailand. Apparently, some Accumold customers in aerospace, telecommunications and microelectro-mechanical-systems packaging/assembly were less than satisfied with output from Asian processors.
``The world is getting smaller [with] higher-precision needs,'' said Roger Hargens, Accumold chief executive officer and president. That trend is ``working toward our niches.''
Accumold specializes in tiny parts. Its smallest job gets 56,000 pieces out of 1 ounce of liquid crystal polymer. A ``monster'' part for Accumold contains 1 ounce of resin, he said.
The firm exports more than 70 percent of its production, typically to Mexico, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Japan, China, Malaysia, Denmark and Ireland. End markets involve microelectronic, automotive sensor, fiber-optic, medical and military applications.
Hargens said that some firms went offshore to procure engineering-grade thermoplastic components but, attracted to Accumold's domestic capability, have brought work back to the United States.
``The change started in the last couple of years,'' Hargens said in a telephone interview. ``Our quality is outstanding. We are competitive and cost effective. Turnaround time is quick.''
Accumold injection molds some components in a Class 100,000 clean room of 1,500 square feet. The company intends to add 30,000 square feet next year to its current 38,000- square-foot space. It may break ground in the spring or fall, depending on how fast customer demands increase.
Accumold is budgeting about $3 million to build the adjacent structure and $1.5 million for capital spending on related equipment. The master plan for the company's 15-acre site envisions third and fourth buildings, eventually, bringing total floor space to 200,000 square feet.
The head count is also growing. In 2004, the company employed 42 in January and 63 in November. The current count: 85 people, including 24 engineers and toolmakers.
All molds built at Accumold stay within the shop. That same proprietary approach applies to the in-house-built Micro-Molder injection presses.
``We build the machines very competitively,'' Hargens said.
Accumold operates 36 proprietary Micro-Molder injection presses and 34 conventional injection molding machines of 12-35 tons. Currently, the company is adding six conventional presses.
Hargens expects 2005 sales to increase more than 20 percent over last year. A sales growth plan aims to top $100 million in five years. The privately held firm would not disclose current sales.
Marketing is a new emphasis, and Accumold has begun broadening its industry visibility through Internet, direct mail and other communication channels. It also is moving to aggressively protect its Accumold, Micro-Mold, Micro-Molder and Accu-Molder registered trademarks. Early this year, the company hired Aaron Johnson as its marketing coordinator.
``Our long-term goal is for people to think of Accumold the first time, every time,'' for jobs using the firm's core competencies, Hargens said.