Little Tikes Co. auctioned off its injection molding and blow molding machinery Aug. 23 - and other items like robots, chillers, loaders and grinders, down to mold clamps - the final step in the toy maker's move to outsource that work.
By sending the work to outside suppliers, Little Tikes, owned by Newell Rubbermaid Inc., has cut about 160 workers. The injection and blow molding work is going to suppliers in Ohio and nearby states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
Tikes continues to do rotational molding at its headquarters plant in Hudson. During the auction, the company stacked plastic resin storage bins to wall off the view of its rotomolding machines.
Auctioneer Scott Mihalic banged the gavel to sell the first item, a refrigerator. He moved quickly through skids of cylinders, grinder blades and sprockets, and other industrial parts. The first press went for $87,500 - a 2-pound, dual-head Impco blow molding machine remanufactured in 2003 by Graham Engineering Corp. The other five industrial blow molding machines were Impcos and Sterlings from the 1980s.
Stopol Auctions LLC sold eight injection presses and six blow molding machines from the Tikes factory in Hudson. Before the auction, Stopol pre-sold another 10 presses and 10 blow molding machines that were from the Hudson operation, according to Neil Kruschke Jr., Stopol's chief executive officer.
The auctioned-off Tikes injection presses included Van Dorns, Cincinnati Milacrons and Farrels, most from the 1980s and 1990s. Clamping forces ranged from 375-2,000 tons.
Solon, Ohio-based Stopol also auctioned another 12 injection presses for other clients, from other plants across the country.
More than 350 bidders participated in the auction, which was webcast live. About 200 buyers came to Tikes' Hudson factory. Another 150 bid online.
Bryan Kokish, Stopol marketing director, estimated the auction would generate about $1 million for about 600 items.
Little Tikes has done injection and blow molding in Hudson, the company's only North American factory, since 2004, when it closed its blow molding plant in Sebring, Ohio. Newell Rubbermaid also closed the flagship Rubbermaid Home Products plant in Wooster, Ohio. Little Tikes in Hudson had picked up equipment from both of those shuttered operations.
Newell Rubbermaid of Sandy Springs, Ga., is undergoing a major restructuring to cut 5,000 jobs and close one-third of its 80 manufacturing facilities.