Innovative Components Inc. plans to offer a wider variety of plastic knobs with the expansion of its subsidiary in Cartago, Costa Rica, and the purchase of machinery and a client list from a defunct competitor.
The Schaumburg, Ill.-based company, which opened a factory in Costa Rica in 2006, already is working to expand that site to 25,000 square feet, from its current 10,000 square feet. The addition should be ready by July, said President Michael O'Connor.
He also said the firm signed a letter of intent to acquire certain assets from K.D. Molding Inc., which was known as U.S. Knobs, in Decatur, Ill. The deal is scheduled to close by May 1.
He said the acquisition includes equipment and a customer list. U.S. Knobs was an automated plastic knob and handle maker that ceased operations in August.
O'Connor said Innovative Components plans to send a computer numerically controlled screw machine, with an auto bar feeder for use in making inserts, to Costa Rica. It also plans to include most of the automation as well.
He said the company took advantage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement to open a plant in Costa Rica and the arrangement has worked very well. That location now has 60 employees working 24 hours, six days a week.
``The labor rates are very competitive to that of the coastal rates of China. It's lower than Mexico,'' he said.
O'Connor said the company has found a strong, skilled labor market in Costa Rica, and that operation complements, rather than competes with, the Schaumburg plant.
Innovative Components takes a blended approach to the market, offering smaller-volume runs and short delivery times from the Schaumburg site, and savings from Costa Rica, he said.
``Most [jobs] get blended,'' he said. He noted that original equipment manufacturers can get the first run quickly from Schaumburg and supplement the total with a later shipment from Costa Rica.
Innovative Components has a proprietary line of plastic knobs, handles, quick-release pins and latches. It supplies North America, Europe and Japan.
O'Connor said the U.S. Knobs acquisition will boost Innovative's product line by 20 percent with new designs.
``We make 34 million knobs a year. It's a specialty niche,'' he said.
Innovative Components started in 1992 and operates from a 30,000-square-foot plant in Schaumburg. It employs 35. The company does insert injection as well as multimaterial molding.
The firm makes many familiar parts, such as handles for lawn mowers and snow blowers. O'Connor said the longer winter in the United States helped boost sales for snow blowers and an early wet, spring in the Southeast should boost lawn mower sales.