B&B Molders LLC will invest $3.4 million to expand its Mishawaka, Ind., operation, integrate new technology and beef up workforce development.
The investment will be spread over a three to four-year period, the company announced Aug. 31.
B&B will add 33,000 square feet of manufacturing space to its current 43,800 square feet. It also will install more injection molding capacity, probably in the 200-ton range, and more mold-building equipment such as computer numerically controlled and electric discharge machines, controller Joe Kronewitter said in a telephone interview.
As well as upgrading technology and training, the investment ``will keep up with our sales growth and maintain our quick three-day lead time on orders,'' B&B President Britt Murphey said in a news release. B&B reported sales of $9 million last year, up 22 percent from 2004.
The company runs 15 presses with clamping forces from 55-400 tons. Murphey expects its staff level of 65 to grow by 18 people over the span of the investment.
About 65 percent of B&B employees have taken advanced courses, for which the company reimburses them.
``The goal of this training is to introduce new software, technology and terminology to the employees so that they all talk the same language and can focus on productivity and efficiency,'' Murphey said. ``B&B Molders has truly evolved from a factory that just cranks out parts to a full-service, science-oriented company that offers `art to part,' that is initial concept to finished product.''
Murphey arranges for professors in the plastics technology program at Lake Michigan College to come to his plant and provide training during business hours. Competitors sometimes send workers to the popular sessions, which is OK with Murphey.
``I would rather maintain the knowledge base, the qualified plastics labor pool in the Michiana area, than let it die on the vine and possibly go offshore.''
St. Joseph County is providing tax abatements to support B&B's program, and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. is assisting with a $16,000 training grant and $56,000 in tax credits.
``These partnerships with the state and county are gratifying and are valuable in encouraging economic development,'' Murphey said. ``I want this project to act as a catalyst for all types of industrial expansion in this region.''
Founded in 1963, B&B is a diverse molder that counts recreational vehicles as its biggest market, supplying such parts as vent covers, utility hatch door assemblies and handles. Defense is another key market for the firm.