A recent influx of new machinery is boosting Mar-Lee Cos. Inc.'s capacity and efficiency.
The company is expanding its molding operations for medical, consumer goods and packaging customers. It has added six Engel injection molding machines in the past six months and has orders for two more presses to be delivered by May.
``Business is good. We expanded our sales - they were up 22 percent in 2007 and our projections are for another 20 percent in 2008. In the first two months we're up 30 percent, so our molding is doing very well,'' said John Gravelle, president and chief executive officer, in an interview at MassPlastics in Fitchburg.
The company, headquartered in Leominster, Mass., is finding that its customers are growing. That's why Mar-Lee has been pushing to add more machinery to its molding operations in Fitchburg, which comprises 86,000 square feet in two side-by-side buildings.
Mar-Lee has installed three injection molding machines - two 200-ton and a 330-ton Engel - in the past six weeks. The two on order have 85 and 330 tons of clamping force.
``We are willing to invest in machinery and automation,'' he said.
Mar-Lee spent $2.3 million on capital expenditures last year, according to Gravelle, and it has budgeted $2 million for 2008.
The company has 36 injection molding machines. The newest additions have been designed as automated manufacturing cells for specific purposes, according to Gravelle.
He said Mar-Lee added 11 employees in 2007 and now has 93. He noted that each year the company boosts its sales per employee by at least 5 percent.
He said automated work cells increase productivity. One operator can oversee the production of 75 million parts a year from four cells, he said.
``When we added a fourth work cell, it was 15 percent faster than the previous work cell. The object is to increase the output of our equipment.''
Gravelle said the company's medical work jumped 100 percent last year and now is about one-third of total business.
``We are very committed to being a regional player. All our growth and planning is right here in Massachusetts,'' he said.