Kenosha, Wis.-based custom injection molder Xten Industries Inc. is manufacturing rigid polyethylene containers to replace textile pannier bags for bicycles.
Xten is molding the containers, called Bikebins, for the British owner and designer of the product, Sam Lowings, and his Tisbury, England-based company, also named Bikebins.
The Bikebin originally was designed with bicycle commuters in mind, who are more common in Europe than in the United States, said Xten President Matthew Davidson, in a Dec. 11 phone interview.
Xten is molding the bins in several colors using recycled material.
Right now, the bins are selling more to mountain-bike shops in the West, Davidson said. In the U.S., Bikebins is focusing on urban markets with a heavy concentration of bicycle commuters, like New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore.
``It works well for people who commute on their bikes,'' Davidson said. ``Sam Lowings thinks there is a huge market here, and we like it.''
Xten is not exclusively a plastics processor. Davidson described the company as one that ``marries plastic to a bunch of other things.'' The company makes and assembles products like napkin and paper towel dispensers, and food-warming plates for restaurants.
``About 90 percent of our business is plastic related,'' he said.
Xten's main predecessor company was Chicago-based Hauser PlasTech Inc. Davidson and partner William Renich bought the custom molder in March 2000 from the Hauser family. In late 2001, they acquired custom molder and tool builder Priority Tool and Manufacturing Inc. of Kenosha and combined it with Hauser to create Xten.
Xten owns 35 injection presses at its 77,000-square-foot plant, situated in the middle of the north-south corridor between Milwaukee and Chicago. Three of the presses two Milacron MH-model 500-ton presses and a Milacron MH 600-tonner and accompanying robots were acquired recently from a Rubbermaid plant in Tennessee after the housewares maker decided to abandon one of its product lines, according to a Dec. 12 news release from Xten. The newly acquired equipment is slated to come on line in January.
The company moved into its Kenosha plant from a downtown Chicago location in 2002. Since moving, the firm's sales have grown about 35 percent annually, to more than $15 million in 2007, the news release said.