Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. will reduce its presence in the large-molding-machine market for the automotive sector in favor of building up its core business of presses for PET preforms and the packaging sector.
The decision to de-emphasize large-machine manufacturing at its plant in Dudelange, Luxembourg, reflects differing growth rates in the respective markets, said Volker Neuber, Husky's vice president of service and sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Husky also has placed its Detroit technical center in Novi, Mich., up for sale. Signature Associates, a commercial real estate firm in Southfield, Mich., is listing the 115,000-square-foot building on its Web site, with a sale price of $13 million.
``Over the past 10 years, we have built a good share in North America and made some inroads in Europe, but recently the growth trend has been in the packaging market,'' Neuber said.
``We will continue to support existing customers, but will not invest into new developments [for automotive],'' he said.
The Bolton, Ontario-based company will continue to take repeat orders for its Quadloc machines as well as maintaining its commitment in tooling, hot runners and metal molding for automotive applications.
Neuber said there will be no job losses at the Luxembourg plant as a result of the shift.
Moving out of the automotive market reverses a strategy started 11 years ago by Husky founder Robert Schad. He transformed the firm from a specialist in PET preforms and thin-wall packaging a market that was getting crowded and made it a broad-line supplier of general-purpose machines.
As a result, Husky rolled out some new automotive machines and opened the Detroit technical center.
In December, Canadian private equity company Onex Corp. bought Husky from Schad and his wife, Elizabeth, along with the other shareholders.
A few months ago, rumors moved through machinery circles that, under direction of the new ownership, Husky was exiting the automotive market. Neuber said the decision was made by Husky management.
Packaging was Husky's original market, and the firm is the dominant global player for PET preform machines. Meanwhile, the automotive market is struggling, especially in North America.
Neuber said that, over the past year, Husky's Luxembourg factory has been increasingly geared up to manufacture packaging and PET preform machines. Husky has strengthened its local supply capability for growth markets such as Eastern Europe.
Husky also claims global market leadership in injection presses used to make plastic closures.
The company's large-machine product line is called Quadloc, and is offered in clamping forces of 1,500-6,000 tons. Equipped with the firm's Tandem and Index technology, the machines brought innovative ways to mold car interiors components.
However, Neuber pointed out, the North American vehicle component industry does not promise significant sales in its current state.
Plastics News senior reporter Bill Bregar contributed to this report.