Three years after moving into a new headquarters and manufacturing facility, Laszeray Technology Inc. continues to grow.
The custom injection molder in North Royalton in 2010 added 9,000 feet of warehouse space to its 30,000-square-foot plant, and has upped the number of its Battenfeld presses to 10, with clamping forces of 62-562 tons.
In 2010, Laszeray spent $1.3 million on machinery, adding 120-, 180- and 240-ton injection machines as well as the big 562-ton press, which arrived just in time for Christmas.
In 2011, the company will buy its first Fanuc six-axis robot to aid its pad-printing operation, and will replace two aging 66- and 300-ton Battenfeld presses, Ray Seuffert, owner and president, said during an April 8 tour of the plant.
We want to maintain our focus on current technology, he said. The 66-ton [injection press] that we have has a picker. Now, we're going to get a new press with a robot, nickel-plated platen, extra core pulls, to name a few [improvements]. We want to keep our equipment clean, accurate and current.
That commitment to new technology extends to the Smart Board, a large touch-screen display in the factory that allows Laszeray's 50 employees to clock in and out individually; see what tasks they've been assigned for each shift; receive email from managers and reply; and watch training videos.
When they're not on the production floor or in front of the screen, employees can be found playing ping-pong in the break room, or working out in the adjacent mini-gym.
True to its roots in mold making and toolmaking, Laszeray maintains 11 Haas Automation high-speed computer numerically controlled machines in its tool shop. The company also does industrial design, rapid prototyping and some secondary assembly.
Its clients include home and commercial food-blender producer Vitamix Corp. of Olmsted Falls, Ohio, as well as others doing business in consumer, commercial, automotive, aerospace and recreational vehicle markets.
Seuffert said management's philosophy is essentially to run a highly efficient plant with productive employees, while simultaneously building and maintaining client relationships.
In all sincerity, money is important and we all have to have it but it's absolutely not our end-all, he said. Our end-all is that three, five, 10 years from now, we're still here employing people. We believe we are cost competitive, but service is where we are big drivers.
Laszeray machines and molds 379 parts in a variety of materials for its 30-plus customers. One notable use of resin is Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical Co.'s Tritan copolyester Laszeray was among the first users when Tritan was launched in 2007. In 2010, the molder processed 1 million pounds of the material, as many of its clients with food-grade applications switched from using polycarbonate because of concerns about bisphenol A safety.
It was a learning experience, because there wasn't anyone who had a base of knowledge on [Tritan] at that time, said Steven Patton, Laszeray's operations manager. We worked with [Eastman's] technical people to find out what the limitations were; there was no process guide.
Laszeray's willingness to collaborate with and loyalty to its suppliers and customers have made Tom Betts, Wittmann Battenfeld Inc.'s Detroit-based regional injection molding machinery sales manager, a regular on Laszeray's guest list.
It's interesting to work with them. In a lot of ways it's demanding, but it makes us better, he said. It's a well-run organization. They push the machines; they're demanding in terms of what they expect from the accuracy, repeatability and the use of the quality-control features that the machines have.
One of Laszeray's newer relationships is as contract molder for Life Core Technologies LLC, a medical-device marketing firm in nearby Broadview Heights, Ohio.
Life Core connection
Life Core in February began selling the Sandhu Cerebral Cooling Collar, a neck-immobilization device invented by Dr. Aqeel Sandhu, the company's president and CEO.
Each collar molded from low density polyethylene with a die-cut expanded PE foam liner contains an LDPE hinged door that enables medical staff to insert a proprietary chemical cooling pack with a fabric cover. The pack reaches 25° F within 30 seconds after activation, allowing the collar to cool blood flowing to the brain.
The mild hypothermia that results helps reduce the chance of injury to tissue for patients who've suffered cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke or traumatic spinal or brain injuries, Sandhu said during an April 20 telephone interview.
Therapeutic hypothermia is the hottest thing in medicine. That's what everyone is focused on these days. It's like the perfect storm for our company, coming up with this product and the timing of it, he said.
Sandhu a Harvard University and Cleveland Clinic-trained cardiovascular surgeon and director of the cardiothoracic surgery program at Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio said he spent 15 years and $500,000 of his own money trying to get a cervical collar with arterial blood-cooling components into the marketplace.
He applied for a patent in 2005 for the Sandhu Cerebral Cooling Collar, and received approval in December.
While waiting for his patent, Sandhu formed Life Core in 2008 with Scott Raybuck and Brian Seitz, two Cleveland-area entrepreneurs who owned Fractured Fashions, a company specializing in fashion-oriented orthopedic products such as arm slings and cast covers. Raybuck is Life Core's chief operating officer and Seitz serves as its chief compliance officer.
Classified as a Class I external medical device by the Food and Drug Administration, the Sandhu collar was ready for mass production early this year, thanks to Life Core's proximity to Laszeray and the Volunteers of America facility in downtown Cleveland, where the devices are assembled and packaged for shipment.
In another stroke of luck for Life Core, the American Heart Association in October endorsed therapeutic hypothermia for several years a relatively experimental form of treatment with a Class I recommendation, its highest rating. Life Core found itself perfectly positioned to take advantage of a new demand in the medical marketplace.
The tides have really changed. Ever since that Class I recommendation by AHA came out, every hospital, every EMS agency, is scrambling to get hypothermia protocols in place, Raybuck said during an April 14 interview at Life Core's offices.
Life Core recently entered a sales and distribution partnership with 10 members of the Independent Medical Distributors Association of Downers Grove, Ill., giving Life Core a nationwide presence.
At $235 per unit, including the Sandhu collar and two Excel-brand cool packs, Life Core's first-quarter sales were about $120,000, Raybuck said. The company, which employs four, is trying to close a Series A round of equity funding this year, with the owners hoping to raise $3 million.
We have partnered with [Laszeray] for more than two years now. Ray [Seuffert] has been great in [developing] the product that we really wanted to get to, Sandhu said. There are a lot of injection molders out there. But it was more the relationship that Ray and I had built that attracted me to Laszeray.
Seuffert said Life Core is an example of the kind of company that his firm excels at partnering with from initial design to manufacturing of new products.
Anyone can go and buy an injection press and a [computer numerically controlled machine] and plug it in and go, he said. We're thankful for the loyalty of our customers who give us the chance not only to maintain, but to grow with them. We don't want to be cocky or arrogant or conceited. We want to be humble and we want to do things right.
From its modest beginnings in Seuffert's house in 1995, Laszeray's growth from investment casting of mold patterns into a full-service tooling, mold-making, design and prototyping, injection molding and printing shop has been consistent. Though he would not disclose sales, Seuffert said the company grew by about 15 percent during the recession.