Lighter, thinner caps and closures are opening new opportunities for mold maker Marland Mold Inc.
For the first time we are shipping to China, said Kleber Salazar, managing director of commercialization, in a Feb. 4 interview at Marland's Pittsfield headquarters.
Work is up significantly since May 2008 for the firm, which is a worldwide mold supplier for most of the large water and carbonated drink companies, he said. He attributes that, in part, to Marland's ability to make molds for the lighter caps and closures.
For every gram saved in a closure, you probably save 3-4 grams in the bottle. The incentives are big, because you make billions of closures, he said. Marland has been able to decrease its standard closure size of about 2.8 grams to 0.9 grams, Salazar said.
Our sales are up 40 percent vs. the year before. We project to grow another 35 percent this year, he said. The 63-year-old firm has operated under an employee stock ownership plan since 1992.
Marland is shipping molds to Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Europe and Turkey. About 50 percent of its sales are outside of the United States.
We think we've done the job of consolidation in our market niche caps and closures but we're pursuing new talent to explore new markets, Salazar said. He pointed to thin-wall packaging and specialty closures as areas the firm can expand in.
Meanwhile, Marland is busy updating its capabilities. In February it installed an Optiflex vision system that checks details up to a couple ten thousandths of an inch. It recently set up a new 15-by-15-foot customer testing area and operates a vision system and other measuring equipment for customer use.
The company also plans to add an injection molding press of 450 or 500 tons for testing, its fourth. It now operates an 80-ton Nissei and 100-ton and 350-ton Netstals.
Last year, it bought a used Mattison surface grinder and spent $250,000 to upgrade it, allowing it to work on molds up to 42 by 84 inches.
We have a solid book of work through September and we see enormous prospects for the end of the year and early next year, Salazar said.
Marland is in the right position now, he said, because of hard decisions it was forced to make during a slump in fall 2007. A 2008 restructuring reduced expenditures, eliminated redundancies and created a flatter organization structure. Two managing directors head the firm: Salazar, who handles sales, marketing and customer relations; and Brian Flynn, who oversees operations.
We've become more of a technical service agency. We go where the molds are. We have a global reach. That level of differentiation enables us to become more of a force that the companies have to work with, Salazar said.
Marland employs 60 at its 72,000-square-foot plant in Pittsfield, which operates seven days a week. It subcontracts some non-critical work to seven suppliers.
But the firm's big advantage is knowledge and skill; its mold makers have anywhere from 20-45 years of job experience.
We have such strict quality control that even if there is a perfectly good part with a minor deformation, we label it as a reject. We don't compromise, he said.
Every detail is important and the firm goes to great lengths to monitor accuracy. We check [quality] as we go. It's much, much longer, but that's important, he said.
Copyright 2010 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.