Aerosol overcap molder Cobra Plastics Inc. has made an investment of roughly $5 million in a new headquarters, warehouse and factory in Twinsburg, Ohio, its home of 35 years.
The firm moved from older, leased buildings one mile away, capping a construction and renovation project that began in January, said Cobra President Kent Houser during an Oct. 15 open house. The project allowed Cobra to more than triple the size of a 30,000-square-foot building and place molding, metalizing, printing, labeling, packaging, and research and development under the same roof as operations and warehousing.
Founded in 1973 as Le-Air Molded Plastics Inc., Cobra had new ownership and a name change in 1995, and since has grown from nine to about 100 employees. The company does not disclose sales figures, but its clients are the big names in the spray-paint and hair-care products markets and therefore, somewhat immune to the U.S. economic downturn, Houser said.
``It's not entirely recession-proof, but we've been through a couple of recessions since we've owned the business and we've always been able to grow and to hire good people,'' he said.
The new facility includes 14 injection molding machines Cobra bought over several years, from suppliers that include Arburg, KraussMaffei and Milacron models. The latest additions are three Demag Plastics Group El-Exis S 330-ton presses, all installed since 2006.
``Kent's a tough guy to please,'' said Victor Strapko, joking.
The regional sales manager for Sumitomo-Demag Plastics Machinery of North America, Strapko attended the open house. ``He didn't want to buy the last two machines until he was convinced the first one worked.''
Strapko said Demag was able to reduce cycle times significantly on the new presses to meet Cobra's specifications.
Inside the new facility, which was completed Sept. 1, steps have been taken to conserve energy and maximize production efficiencies, said Lee Hendershot, Cobra's vice president of operations. Office lights are controlled by motion sensors, and high-efficiency fluorescent lighting was installed on the shop and warehouse floors.
Variable-speed compressors and pumps help machinery operate efficiently, and for cooling water, Cobra executives chose an air-cooled system to replace the traditional water tower.
``That investment saved us $20,000 per year,'' Hendershot said. ``We've also changed the way we chemically treat water coming out of the presses and that will save us $10,000 a year.''
Press operators collect faulty overcaps, which are reground and repelletized to save on raw materials, Hendershot said. The company is considering what it needs to do to qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, he added.
The new facility has a whimsical side: In addition to having a mural of the seventh hole at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links painted on his office wall above a miniature putting green that requires a bit of a draw Houser ordered a full-scale pitching green, complete with sand trap, installed on the northwest side of the Cobra complex.
``One of these days, we'll grow some more and then I'll have to knock down a wall and expand the plant. Then it's bye-bye pitching green and I'll shed a tear,'' he said, laughing.
Houser said Cobra will mold products other than overcaps in the future, but would not give specifics.
Dutch specialty materials manufacturer Royal Ten Cate NV in 2001 sold its Ten Cate Plasticum USA overcap molding plant in McHenry, Ill., to a consortium comprising Cobra and Engineered Molding Solutions Inc. of Spring Grove, Ill. Cobra acquired the tooling assets and aerosol-overcap product line from Plasticum and continues to use EMS as a subcontractor for some specialty molding.