With the completion last week of a $5 million expansion and renovation that nearly doubles its available capacity, injection molder HTI Plastics is now in position to grow its sales 33 percent by 2014.
We are a $15 million company today. I expect to be a $20 million company by 2014, said HTI President Paul Almburg, who also is president of the plastics division of HTI's parent, Plastics Cos. Enterprises. Both companies are located in Lincoln, Neb.
HTI derives 60 percent of its sales from the medical and pharmaceutical markets.
We have grown substantially over the last three years, Almburg said in a Sept. 1 phone interview. Our revenues have increased 44 percent since July 2007, and I expect similar growth going forward over the next three years.
HTI has also expanded its product portfolio, as it began making Class II medical devices in addition to Class I devices about a year ago, he said. That is opening up several new product areas, including products used in operating rooms and in implants.
The renovation and expansion detailed in PN when the project began 18 months ago was to finish up Sept. 3 and includes four new KraussMaffei all-electric molding machines, said Almburg.
The 35,000-square-foot project, completed in April, includes a 24,000-square-foot white room specifically for molding pharmaceutical and medical products such as applicators, drug-delivery devices and dosage cups. The white room also houses an 11,000-square-foot warehouse area.
The expanded plant area has 19 of the firm's 24 molding machines, including the four new ones two with 120 tons of clamping force, and two with 180 tons. The company's 24 machines range from 50-950 tons, he said.
We have also doubled the clean room space for medical packaging and assembly to 8,000 square feet in the original part of the plant, Almburg said.
We now have two glass-walled clean rooms there right across the hall from each other.
HTI also completely renovated 20,000 square feet of the original 48,000 square feet in the plant as it was completing its 35,000-square-foot expansion in order to have both the added clean room space and improved space for secondary operations such as sonic welding and pad printing, he said.
It cost us a little extra to make this a first-class molding facility [his original estimate was $3.5 million], but it is already starting to pay off, Almburg said.
We are already considering adding more machines, he said. We have room for nine more machines in the expanded area and four or five more in the renovated area. I would hope that we would have them filled up in two years and possibly sooner. We have lots of irons in the fire right now.
There is also room for further expansion as the area where the plant was expanded was built with moveable ends, he said.
Another benefit from the expansion and renovation is greater efficiency. The project also allows HTI to separate its medical and pharmaceutical business from its sporting goods and custom manufacturing, which will remain at the current site.
We are experiencing very steady growth in plastic gunstocks for hunting rifles and pistols, he noted.
When we put this new facility together, we put plenty of room between the machines so that we can put the parts together right by the machines, he said. So instead of work-in-progress areas and assembly, we are going right from the machine to a finished part.
There is also a new materials-handling system. These investments have significantly added to the capacity and efficiency of our operations, he said.
We also have our own engineering toolroom, and provide engineering support to customers as a service, not a profit center, said Almburg. We help our customers design their products, build prototypes for them and move them into production. Because we have our own toolroom, we can maintain and build our molds.
In addition, he said HTI has done a lot of internal automation and built its own automation systems.
That helps keeps cost low and helps us compete against offshore competitors, Almburg said. We use a lot of robotics and automated assembly systems.
One and a half years ago, we had a decision to make, said Almburg. We had to start turning away business or expand. We decided to expand in order to grow.
Despite the current economic climate, we have pushed forward with these planned improvements in order to increase our manufacturing capacity, he said. This is the culmination of the effort we began when we decided five years ago that the only way to grow and compete in a world market was to automate and reduce costs through operational efficiencies.
With its growth the last three years, HTI also has increased its workforce from 66 to 90 and expects further increases as business grows.