In a move to become more efficient, rotational and blow molder Dutchland Plastics Corp. is consolidating operations from two plants to one in its hometown of Oostburg, Wis., north of Milwaukee.
Crews will move three of the nine rotomolding machines from its west plant over to the newer, larger east plant, where they will join four rotomolding machines and 10 industrial blow molding machines, according to Daven Claerbout, sales director and co-owner.
The six remaining rotomolding machines at the west plant will remain in storage, to be moved at a later date, he said.
Dutchland owns both buildings.
We might not move them all immediately, just because we've learned how to be more lean with the machines that we have, Claerbout said.
Daven Claerbout said the consolidation was a difficult decision, filled with emotion, for him and his brother, company President Carl Claerbout. The west plant was the original rotomolding plant started by their father, Bill Claerbout, a real estate auctioneer who got into plastics when he took over a troubled factory in 1967.
Carl and Daven own the company. Their father died in 2008.
Daven Claerbout acknowledged that the economic downturn is hurting Dutchland. In 2008, the company employed about 300 in Oostburg, and generated total sales of $31 million from rotomolding and blow molding. The company has reduced its workforce to 190, and Claerbout said sales should be around $23 million for 2009.
We have a lot of capacity, he said.
But the move is more than a reaction to the slow economy. In fact, Dutchland leaders say a push into lean manufacturing and continuous improvement together with an improving economy should result in doubling sales during the next five years.
The consolidation will improve operations at Dutchland Plastics, said Sara Suckow, human resources director. Oostburg has always been home to Dutchland. This move allows us to stay at home and be stronger and better positioned than ever, she said.
After operating for years out of the west plant, Dutchland in 2003 built a second, 80,000-square-foot factory, known as the east plant, to become a center for its new blow molding operation. In 2007, the company doubled the size of that building, to 160,000 square feet. The east plant is a landmark at the Oostburg exit along Interstate 43.
The original west plant, which has housed most of the company's rotomolding machines, measures 150,000 square feet.
Before the brothers approved the move, teams of employees conducted kaizen events to reconfigure blow molding and rotomolding equipment in the east plant, making sure the machinery from the other building would fit, said Daven Claerbout.
Kaizen and lean manufacturing will boost efficiency at Dutchland, he said.
Our vision statement is to be a $50 million company by 2014 through controlled and profitable growth, and the key to that is being lean, Claerbout said. Being under control and profitable means we need to be under one roof to do it.
Claerbout said Dutchland has reduced inventory levels. The company also is pursuing sales more aggressively.
We're one of five [combination] rotomolders/blow molders in the United States, so we can offer both processes, Claerbout said. Having industrial blow molding helps a rotomolder retain higher-volume jobs that often migrate to blow molding, and the dual expertise attracts new customers, he said.
Dutchland will continue to run its newest plant, a small, one-machine rotomolding factory in Sherrill, N.Y., Claerbout said.
Copyright 2009 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.