Fremont Plastic Molds knew it could not survive in a changing business environment. So it changed.
Now called FPM Tooling & Automation, the Fremont, Ohio-based company has re-created itself, becoming not just a toolmaker for industrial blow molding, but also a specialist in finishing equipment and automation.
``We knew industrial blow molds, but it's a mature market,'' said FPM President Martin Cass in a June 4 phone interview. ``We wanted to keep our knowledge in front of our customers' needs.''
The company has taken its expertise even further through its acquisition of RTS Industrial Solutions, emphasizing its ability as a turnkey provider of everything needed to launch production.
RTS, based in Toledo, Ohio, has moved into FPM's facility in nearby Fremont and specialists from the two firms are looking at the best ways to leverage FPM's experience in blow mold tooling with RTS' capabilities in robotics, finishing equipment and complete production cells.
``We get to take a look at the bigger picture in terms of what's being made,'' Cass said. ``We can look at things a little bit smarter and find ways to drive down costs for our customers.''
FPM launched its own in-house automation and downstream equipment unit headed by Vice President and General Manager Ken Recker in 2004. But working alone, the firm's solutions were ``vanilla'' compared with RTS' knowledge, Cass said.
By uniting both specialties, FPM covers a wider range of capabilities. It can do everything from design to engineering, sampling, and tryouts within a complete manufacturing cell and find the best way to address problems.
``Under the old rules of the game, people were so focused on playing their own ball in their own court that they didn't share information that could help everyone,'' Cass said.
The combined approach also should help FPM customers - 50 percent of them in the auto industry - to streamline their own production costs, he said.