Fred Stolle says he is ready for a career change, and that's one reason why he's closing mold maker Stolle Technology Inc. The building and assets will be auctioned March 15 on-site by Asset Sales Inc., an Indian Trail, N.C., auctioneer.
``We run lights out [24 hours a day], but at this point in time, we feel that we still have choices that we can make on our future,'' said Stolle, who co-owns Stolle Technology in Winston-Salem, N.C., with his wife, Barbara.
The company produces molds for industries including aerospace, medical, cosmetics and automotive. It had employed as many as 25 at its 17,585-square-foot facility, but now a skeleton crew is completing promised orders.
The 9-year-old firm, which had relatively new machinery, had taken steps to reduce labor costs by using robotics and running machines 24 hours a day. However, Stolle who is in his 40s, said that a number of factors have led him to the decision that it was time to get out of mold making.
``I did see a decrease in sales in the last quarter of '05 and it's been very, very soft,'' Stolle said in a March 8 telephone interview.
He cited Asian competition, the difficulty in finding trained workers and rising health-care costs as other contributing factors.
``Last year, I quoted one project that had four different bids - three were within a small margin, but the offshore quote was 40 percent less,'' he noted.
The company stopped taking orders in January, he said. It still owes on loans, including a $135,000 city loan acquired in 2003. The Stolles had to get city approval to drop liens against their equipment to hold the auction, but expect the sale will more than pay off the debts.
At the auction, they will sell the building as well as computer numerically controlled machining centers, electrical discharge machines, lathes, grinders and other equipment.