GW Plastics Inc. of Bethel, Vt., is purchasing the controlling interest in a Chinese mold builder and injection molder, contingent on national and local government approvals.
``For three years, we have been looking in China for a company that shares our highly focused tooling and injection molding capabilities,'' said Brenan Riehl, GW Plastics president and chief executive officer.
GW Plastics is acquiring control of Wah Chak Hing Precision Plastic Electron Ltd. in Dongguan City in Guangdong province.
Lide Zeng founded WCH in 1997 and, upon ownership change, will remain as managing director. The new name for the business - GW Plastics Guangdong - was placed on the building in early January.
GW expects to retain current key members of the WCH team as managers and minority owners.
WCH employs more than 100, occupies 15,000 square feet and uses seven all-electric, robot-equipped Fanuc injection molding machines of 50-150 tons. WCH has current capacity to make more than 100 molds per year.
Space is available for installation of eight more presses, as needed, and GW intends to install a Class 100,000 clean room in the facility during 2006, Riehl said in a Feb. 2 interview at the Medical Design & Manufacturing West trade show in Anaheim.
In addition, a near-term expansion of 25,000 square feet is planned.
``We will transform WCH into our way of doing things,'' Riehl said.
In early 2005, GW Plastics began contracting with WCH for mold production. The relationship grew, and Riehl saw a way for GW to accelerate its expansion of mold making and contract manufacturing services in another low-cost environment. GW began operations in Queretaro, Mexico, in January.
WCH focuses on high-precision, close-tolerance molding and insert molding of connectors and electronic components. GW intends to add capabilities for gear and multishot molding at the China plant.
GW plans for the new location to mold parts for the Chinese market and build additional tools for use in all GW Plastics locations including Bethel and Royalton, Vt.; San Antonio, Texas; Tucson, Ariz.; and Queretaro. GW will continue to build molds in Royalton.
In the Mexico expansion, GW Plastics leased 28,000 square feet and initially is installing at least five injection molding presses of 110-300 tons. The new entity, GW Plastics de Mexico S de RL de CV, will provide precision molding and assembly services.
The state-of-the-art facility can accommodate as many as 25 presses. Other available space could allow GW to expand the Queretaro site eventually to 52,000 square feet, suitable for 40 presses.
Excluding China, GW Plastics employs 450 and had 2005 sales of more than $65 million, evenly divided between the health-care and automotive markets.