A new injection molded promotional products business has started in Mason City, Iowa.
AmPro Inc. started production in early March with four small injection presses, confirmed John Ressler, a partner in the new firm. He estimates startup costs, including buying a building and various assets, will amount to between $1.7 million and $2 million.
Ressler and his partner, Stanley Schultz, bought dies, patents, printing equipment, inventory and other assets from KI-Line of Eudora, Kan., and AmPro Line of Leeds, Ala. They pooled the assets with Amazing Products Inc. of Mason City. Amazing Products owner Dick Westcott joined AmPro Inc. to handle marketing and sales.
AmPro Inc. has begun molding a range of promotional items, such as drinking cups. Ressler said in a telephone interview that employees are examining AmPro's purchased dies to make sure they are in good shape before using them.
``We want to increase the quality of the product lines,'' Ressler said from Mason City. AmPro Inc.'s in-house tool and die shop will allow it to repair and upgrade molds to ensure product quality, he said.
Although AmPro Inc. plans to do most of its molding, it has contracted out molding of some of the larger items, such as big cups. Conversely, it may do some custom molding to help fill out its machine time.
KI-Line sold innovative drinkware products mainly in states adjacent to Kansas. AmPro Inc. plans to give the products national exposure. A sister company, Sunflower KI, continues in Eudora in its core business of printing and decorating cups for promotions.
AmPro Line was a sister company to custom injection molder AmPro Custom Molding in Leeds, Ala. Both are affiliates of American Household Products Inc., also of Leeds. As AmPro Custom Molding expanded in automotive markets, the promotional product line was considered nonstrategic and was sold. AmPro Line products were distributed nationally and in Canada.
Ressler expects employment in fledgling AmPro Inc. to reach about 15 after a year in operation. Mason City Economic Development Corp. assisted with starting the company.
``The three companies complement one another very well, and our products will be sold through distributors across the United States,'' Westcott said in a news release.
AmPro Inc.'s day-to-day operations are being managed by Manny Laidig, chief financial officer for the company. He is retired chief executive officer and chairman of Newton Manufacturing Co., a major promotional products developer and marketer based in Newton, Iowa.
In the meantime, AmPro Custom Molding plans continued expansion as it digests recently acquired injection molding assets.
The firm bought the assets of bankrupt Hunjan Alabama in July, giving it a second production site, in Aniston, Ala. The deal shot AmPro's annual molding sales to $25.7 million last year, nearly five times the $5.2 million in molding revenue the company recorded in 2004, according to Plastics News' injection molders survey.
AmPro Custom President Burns Roensch said in a telephone interview that his firm wants to double that volume over three years. To help it along, AmPro intends to expand the blow molding capability it got with Hunjan, add gas-assist and two-shot molding, and stretch into more original equipment manufacturers' order books.
Even with diversification efforts, ``I'm sure automotive will fuel a lot of the expansion,'' Roensch said.
AmPro bought Hunjan Alabama's land, buildings, equipment and customer base in a complex deal from bankruptcy court. The business was under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Assets of its Canadian parent, Hunjan Group of Markham, Ontario, were auctioned off months later in December after the owners' restructuring efforts in Canada failed.
AmPro got a 225,000-square-foot plant in Aniston, more than doubled its injection press count to 41, extended its press size to up to 3,000 tons and added blow molding to its production mix. The acquired customer list was slimmer than it would have been before Hunjan's bankruptcy, but it still included valuable automotive business, most notably work for Hyundai, a new AmPro customer.
Automotive accounts for about three-quarters of AmPro's current sales - not surprising, given the number of automotive OEMs locating in the South. The Tier 2 supplier's client roster also includes Mercedes Benz, Honda, Nissan and DaimlerChrysler. AmPro is continuing to build automotive sales since the Hunjan acquisition, Roensch added. Other market segments important to the company include consumer products, recreational goods, furniture and aerospace. AmPro now employs about 285. Its secondary services include design, prototyping, decorating, assembly, and tool design and building.
It molds a range of commodity and engineering thermoplastics. The Leeds company already was expanding a half a year before it bought Hunjan Alabama's assets. Part of the program involved installing five new Sumitomo presses at the 75,000-square-foot Leeds facility.