High-precision contract manufacturer C&J Industries Inc. which derives 60 percent of its sales from the medical and pharmaceutical markets is embarking on a $6 million expansion and renovation of its Meadville, Pa., plant that will add three white rooms, two of them for molding and one for assembly.
The expansion project will add 27,200 square feet to the plant, creating space for a white room for molding that can accommodate up to 18 injection molding machines, an upgraded quality assurance lab and more warehouse space.
Meadville-based C&J also will be purchasing nine new all-electric injection molding presses ranging from 55-390 tons of clamping pressure and equipped with robotic part-removal systems.
All three phases of the project are scheduled to be done by June, operations Vice President David Lennox said Sept. 20 by telephone, in advance of the project's Oct. 8 groundbreaking.
The new white room will be used to manufacture high-precision components and products for our non-medical businesses in markets such as telecommunications, fiber optics, industrial and transportation, according to Lennox.
We will start off with eight to nine presses in that space, ranging in size from 55-700 tons of clamping force, he said.
To provide more space for its rapidly growing medical business, Lennox said the company will renovate and remodel two of the three areas of the existing 143,000-square-foot plant.
The current general molding area will be converted to a white room for medical and non-medical assembly, and the contract assembly room to a white room for medical molding. The latter white room will house 12 presses from 55-110 tons and make products such as syringes, hand tools and surgical instruments, the company said.
The company already operates a Class 8 clean room for medical molding. That area was part of a $1 million expansion in 2009 that converted 3,200 square feet of warehouse space and added machinery including five injection presses and a high-speed computer numerically controlled mill.
We decided that our general molding area would be better utilized if we converted it to a white room, said Lennox. Our pharmaceutical and medical business has grown substantially. We have experienced significant growth over the past two years and expect the trend to continue.
The expansion comes on the heels of 20 percent growth in the company's workforce since January, from 225 to 275 the majority of them in manufacturing. We expect to add 25-50 more workers over the next couple of years, said controller Jack Siegel.
We are looking at a 10 percent growth rate, and we feel that is a conservative estimate, Siegel said.
C&J Industries now has 43 injection molding machines from 55-700 tons. After the new machines are installed, that number will rise to between 47 and 50, since some of its current presses will be shuttered.
Our business has been growing significantly, said sales and marketing director Mark Fuhrman. We will finish the year with 60 percent of our revenues from medical and pharmaceutical. Another 20 percent of our sales will come from industrial products. Five to six years ago, we were largely dependent on automotive, which is now less than 1 percent of company sales, he added.
This was a planned transition, Fuhrman said. It is what has driven our growth and expansion.
Because of the company's strong balance sheet, Siegel said C&J was able to secure a 10-year fixed-rate loan to fund the expansion from First National Bank in Erie, Pa., with part of the project qualifying for economic stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Siegel expects the loan to be finalized in the next two weeks at an interest rate in the neighborhood of 3.6 percent.