In 2001, as the telecommunications industry globalized, injection molder Triple S Plastics Inc. became a desirable acquisition for European firms that needed a manufacturing footprint in North America.
So Finland's Eimo Oyj stepped in to buy the Vicksburg, Mich., firm.
As the telecom industry expanded to Asia, Eimo and the former Triple S became the acquisition target. In 2003, Taiwan's Foxconn Electronics Inc. bought the operations in order to add manufacturing in North America and Europe.
But when telecommunications manufacturing began to consolidate in Asia and other low-cost regions, the 250-employee firm in Michigan forecast the day when it could lose the bulk of its business, and it began planning for its new future.
Now the company has moved its customer base from 85 percent telecom to no telecom exposure, with a focus instead on automotive, medical and consumer products customers.
And, once again, it has a new owner that's eager to use it as a springboard for its own growth in North America.
Nissha Printing Co. Ltd. of Kyoto, Japan, bought the Vicksburg plants that made up Eimo Americas Inc. from Foxconn in December, and has established it as a subsidiary, Eimo Technologies Inc. Nissha plans to use its molding and tooling capabilities to expand its sales base in decorative plastics molding in North America.
``We put our focus on manufacturing that was going to stay in North America,'' said Eimo Chief Operations Officer Joe O'Brien in a Feb. 13 telephone interview. ``The real upside here is that we now have a stable market base.''
And with Nissha, it has a strong global customer, he said.
Eimo worked extensively with Nissha's films and foils for its in-mold decorating for 10 years - initially for mobile phones - and now is using them in a variety of products including highly decorative interior auto parts.
Eimo has 138,000 square feet of manufacturing space spread across three buildings in Vicksburg. The company has 46 injection presses with clamping forces of 20-500 tons, a Class 100,000 clean room and multishot molding capabilities.
The addition of Eimo gives Nissha a wide lineup of functional and decorated parts that emphasize both companies' specialties. Nissha officials noted that Eimo also broadens Nissha's market for its films and foils, because it will use Eimo's molding and research and development operations to showcase the companies' capabilities and new products in North America.
In addition, Eimo's in-house tooling will be able to take over engineering changes that previously had to be shipped to Japan.