In the midst of an economic slowdown, engineering consultant Oak Tree Consulting LLC has plenty of work.
The Dundee, Mich.-based firm added a senior staff member earlier this year and plans to add two more by the end of the year, increasing its staff to seven.
Oak Tree also is working with LyondellBasell Industries AF SCA of Rotterdam, Netherlands, on the engineering and management of a polypropylene compounding plant to be constructed in Altamíra, Mexico.
Construction on the project is set to begin this summer and should be completed within eight months, Oak Tree President Subodh Sharma said in a recent telephone interview.
``So far, we have more work than we can do, which is why we plan to add people,'' said Sharma, who had 25 years of plastics experience when he founded the firm in 2002.
``When I was in the industry, I always said that I wished there was someone who could handle this kind of work,'' he added. ``I'm that someone now.''
Oak Tree also is working with Flexituff International Ltd. of Pithampur, India, a maker of flexible intermediate bulk containers, on a pilot-scale compounding plant to be built in Indore, India. That project currently is in the pre-engineering phase. Other current Oak Tree clients include compounder Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc. of Fowlerville, Mich.; and the Gahanna, Ohio, compounding plant of Richmond, Va.-based Alloy Polymers Inc.
The firm also has done project management and subcontracting work for extruder maker Berstorff GmbH at several U.S. locations. In each case, Oak Tree allows its client to decide whether it wants the firm to handle work on its own or contract it out to other companies.
Oak Tree has trademarked the term Embedded Consulting, a concept that emphasizes working in the middle of a client firm's people and processes. Oak Tree's abilities include new line installation, plant rearrangement, process optimization and productivity improvement.
Since 2006, Oak Tree has been part of an alliance with Jabezco Industrial Group Inc. of Jackson, Tenn., to help compounders with expansions or upgrades.
To date, most of Oak Tree's work has been in the area of compounding, but Sharma said the firm can work with other plastic processing methods as well. Sharma's longest stay in the industry was an 11-year stint with long-fiber thermoplastic maker Ticona Celstran Inc. in Winona, Minn. He also has professional experience in India, Iran, Venezuela and Germany.