Tessy Plastics LLC is expanding its Lynchburg, Va., plant by nearly 50 percent to take aim at the medical disposables market and gain capacity to grow the other parts of its business.
“We had a need for an expansion,” said President Ken Beck in a phone interview Feb. 1. “It is not entirely for medical capacity. It has a lot to do with future capacity and with future growth. We were operating at 100 percent capacity.”
Just 10 months ago, the 60,000-square-foot plant was operating at 65 percent capacity.
Beck said he expects the 26,000-square-foot, $4.8 million expansion to be completed by the end of May. “The expansion is primarily for a Class 100,000 clean room,” he said. “It will have a minimum of 10 machines, ranging in size from 80-250 tons,” pushing the number of injection molding machines at the plant to more than 50.
Currently, consumer products account for the majority of company sales. The medical business accounts for 25-30 percent of its revenues, a sizable jump from 10 percent last April.
Long-range, Beck said the company would like medical disposables to be 50 percent of its business. “Medical is growing,” he said.
But he added that the expansion initially won't be just for medical business. “If we have a customer that needs five machines to make its products, for example, we can do that.”
Beck said the expansion will create 60 jobs over the next few years and it is possible the expanded space could be operating at full capacity “in as soon as a year.”
“We are on 14 acres here,” said Beck. “We still have additional space. Even after the expansion we could nearly double in size to 140,000-150,000 square feet.”
Beck emphasized that the company chose to expand in Lynchburg and not China or New York state, where its parent company is headquartered, because of the quality of its current, 150-person workforce in Lynchburg.
“We could have expanded anywhere,” said Beck. “But the quality of the employees we have here is awesome.”
Tessy Plastics LLC's parent firm, in Elbridge, N.Y., is Tessy Plastics Corp. and its president is Ken Beck's older brother, Roland. Their father and two others founded the company 39 years ago in Elbridge.
Tessy Plastics LLC, which was founded in 1997 in Lynchburg, makes aerospace components; parts for leaf-blower backpacks; housings for string trimmers; parts for air tanks used by firefighters; and housings, heads, nozzles, caps and valves for vacuum cleaners.
It also makes components for night-vision systems, handgun grips and casings, insulin pumps and syringes, private radio systems, parts for tire-pressure sensors, and internal components for desktop printers.
The plant currently has a dedicated Class 100,000 medical clean room, but after the expansion, all clean room manufacturing will be done in the larger, expanded space, Ken Beck said.
Half of its current injection presses are all-electric and range from 40-720 tons of clamping force, he said. All of the new machines that will be purchased for the expansion will be all-electric.
“I look forward to investing in our future to make us a stronger, more efficient company, which will help us stay competitive in a global market,” said Beck.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell approved a $150,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund that was matched by the city of Lynchburg for the project.