GripWorks recently added the entire line of Hunt-Wilde-brand injection molded hand grips to its portfolio and will be manufacturing them at its St. Louis production facilities.
It will be the first time in many years that the company will be injection molding in the U.S., Jeff Barket, sales and marketing director, said Nov. 30 by telephone.
“We are market-dominant in dip molded hand grips, but many [original equipment manufacturers] purchase not only dip molded grips but are looking for other grips as well. This fulfills that need and is complementary to our lines,” he said.
GripWorks acquired the tooling assets for the Hunt-Wilde line in September and added about 100 molds to its portfolio. The company uses injection molding in China, but earlier in the year it began developing a few stock grips in St. Louis. That plan evolved as the Hunt-Wilde line became available.
With the new line, GripWorks is now running two Cincinnati Milacron 440-ton presses 24 hours a day, five days a week, according to Barket. The company has added six employees, and it will be shipping the product internationally.
Barket said GripWorks has seen double-digit sales increases in the past few years and had $9 million in sales in its recently completed 2011 fiscal year. The grips are used on items including wheelchairs, exercise equipment, compressors, lawn mowers, hand trucks and bicycles.
The company cleared space for the new machinery in one of its two St. Louis production facilities, according to Marylou Pudlowski, GripWorks' marketing coordinator.
Pudlowski said GripWorks' parent, Sinclair & Rush Inc., started in 1950 by dip molding products. It has expanded over the years, adding extrusion, foam extrusion and thermoforming.
Sinclair & Rush, based in Arnold, operates five other companies besides GripWorks. They include Stockcap, a maker of protective caps and plugs; VisiPak, a supplier of clear packaging tubes, clamshells, blister packs, trays and boxes; VynaFlex, a supplier of vinyl plastisol compounds; Soffware, a supplier of can coolers; and Castle Bay, a manufacturer of vinyl and neoprene golf iron covers.
S&R has manufacturing plants in St. Louis; London; Sydney; Monterrey, Mexico; and Changzhou, China.