Rex Luchtel thought something looked wrong when he first saw the R&D/Leverage display at NPE2009.
There are no tools, he said in an interview at the show. Every toolmaker is supposed to have tools, right?
But the new look for R&D/ Leverage reflects the new role the Lee's Summit, Mo., company has made for itself. The firm has moved beyond the old image of R&D the toolmaker to embrace a new path it has charted for itself in complete product development, including an in-house industrial design firm (Leverage) with prototyping, engineering, testing and yes, tooling.
If you just define yourself as a toolmaker, then that's all [customers] are going to think you do, said Luchtel, R&D's CEO and vice president of operations.
R&D gradually expanded its capabilities over the past nine years, culminating in the addition of industrial design in 2008 with Leverage. The business rolled out its dual identity at NPE, held June 22-26 in Chicago, and continues to do so through its operations in the U.S. and Sutton-in-Ashfield, England.
Earlier this year, R&D/Leverage created a production laboratory in England to extend its abilities in complete product design in key packaging businesses there. Alan Tolley, managing director for Europe, said the company will re-introduce itself to customers that may only know the firm for its mold making.
It's about changing the perception, Tolley said.
That perception was reflected at the firm's NPE booth, emphasizing final products R&D/Leverage has had a hand in developing, rather than just tooling as one aspect of those products.
You've got to add value to what you offer, Tolley said.
The addition of Leverage and complete industrial design has opened new doors for R&D, Luchtel said, giving it contacts with brand owners as well as molders.
New products are under development now, he said.