Two entrepreneurs are changing the concept of mold texturing with a mobile operation that takes texturing to their customers, saving companies time and shipping costs.
North American Texturing launched three years ago, and has been winning increased business with its ability to shorten delivery times to just days or even hours, compared to weeks. The company does both on-site repairs and full texturing of new molds throughout North America.
“Traditionally, the thought was that you needed a 500-ton bath of acid [for texturing], but that's not necessary,” said Larry Bolanowski, who created the company with Mike Kalentek. “You just need to expose the mold surface to the acid, and you can do that with just a small amount of acid. It could fit … inside a travel suitcase.”
Bolanowski and Kalentek were working at a traditional texturing operation when they first began thinking it was possible to take the work to a customer, rather than forcing the customer to ship molds there — slowing delivery of new tooling or halting existing production for repairs.
In addition to faster response time, the two also are able to keep their operating costs low. They do not need their own manufacturing space, so they do not have traditional fixed costs for maintaining a site. They have no traditional office, using cell phones and the Internet to connect with each other and clients. Bolanowski is based out of the Detroit suburb of Clinton Township, Mich., and Kalentek is in Springfield, Mass. — that is, when they are not on the road for two to three weeks per month.
When they need a more permanent setup, NAT has a network of mold makers and texturing facilities they work with, as well as freelance employees who can step in when there is more work than expected.
When the company first launched, the partners expected to do more repair work. Success on an early project — protective sleeves for a seatbelt latch — led to more work with key automakers and top suppliers.
“It was the customers who kept pushing us to try more,” Kalentek said.
Instead of taking a tool out of service for one to three weeks for shipping, texturing and return delivery, NAT may require only one or two days.
“There was one part inside a glove box in which they needed the [texturing] done by Monday. I came in on Friday and had it done on Saturday. Everyone else had told them it would be two weeks,” Kalentek said.
Depending on the mold, acid could be applied to the surface through something as simple as spray bottles, but the art involved in applying grains and textures remains a key part of the service. The partners have more than 50 years of combined experience in texturing molds.
NAT expects to double its sales in 2010, they said. Work is steady enough that the two partners said they might add more full-time employees.
“We began with $300 worth of brochures. Now we've got 16-18 steady repeat customers,” Bolanowski said.
But the partners note that there are limits to the mobile service. Some parts are too big and too complex for full texturing on-site. NAT prefers working on small to midsize molds. It is a niche service, Bolanowski said, but that niche also covers a range of business.