Gary Wright, a veteran of Indiana's recreational vehicle industry, is enjoying his return to rotational molding.
Wright founded Midwest Rotational Molding LLC in Elkhart in mid-2010. Production began last fall on two rotomolding machines — a used Ferry 280 fixed-arm, and a new Ferry 330 independent-arm model.
A self-described fan of rotomolding, Wright said the economic recovery prompted him to get back into the business. Promens North America had bought his previous company, Performance Plastics, in 2009; today, that Elkhart plant is part of Indiana Rotomolding Inc.
“I felt there was definitely a need for an additional rotomolder, because people were getting busier,” Wright said. “I just saw a need for it.
“And besides, I like it. Quite honestly, I just enjoy rotational molding.”
Wright expects Midwest Rotational Molding to generate $1.5 million in sales in this, its first full year.
The company employs 15 people, dry blending its own material. Midwest also is getting into in-mold graphics.
Right now, he said, the RV sector accounts for 60 percent of sales. But Midwest Rotational Molding also is molding returnable pallets, military barricades and tanks for oil and transmission-changing equipment for a maker of automotive service equipment.
One new market is the marine industry. The company is molding aftermarket replacement furniture for boats.
Wright outlined his 30-year background in the RV sector and plans for Midwest Rotational Molding during an interview at the company's 98,000-square-foot plant in July.
He has worked at RV component suppliers, including an Elkhart thermoforming company.
Wright called the RV industry a mainstay of northern Indiana, a “very good industry.”
“I know it well. But it has its ups and downs because it's a luxury item. You don't have to have it,” he said. “During good times, the business is very good and during bad times it's just, obviously, the opposite of that. It runs parallel with the economy.”
After plunging during the recession, RV sales have rebounded with the strengthening economy.
The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association said shipments hit 242,300 units in 2010, a 46 percent jump from 2009, and the highest annual total in three years. Shipments are expected to grow 7.4 percent this year, according to the RVIA.
Wright said he is bullish because baby boomers are in their peak RV-buying years. At the same time, he said Midwest Rotational Molding wants to keep diversifying.