Canon Virginia Inc. and Canon Mold Co. Ltd. gave away a mold at NPE2009 to help get the Canon name out to molders who knew the corporate name only from its consumer cameras.
The mold giveaway was so successful the company repeated it at NPE2012, held April 1-5 in Orlando.
“We still get questions about, ‘What is Canon doing here?'” said Rhonda Bunn, senior manager of public relations.
The giveaway gets the mold maker some solid leads, which helps it continue to build its name and reputation in the U.S., said Matt Slothower, senior manager of precision molds business development.
Canon Mold opened in Newport News, Va., in 2004, joining the company's molding and assembly operations. The unit makes molds for Canon and for outside customers. It specializes in complex, tight-tolerance small to midsize molds.
Canon Virginia has added 264 employees in the past year, most of them outside of tooling, but the firm has built its mold-making base as well, Bunn said.
It also has built on its existing high-technology production capabilities, Slothower said.
While some of the growth is due to the overall economic recovery, Slothower noted that Canon Mold also is seeing more interest from molders that want to reshore tooling from China.
Rising production costs in Asia and increased automation in the U.S. are creating a more competitive environment for mold customers that may want to eliminate the complication of buying from a business that is 10 or 12 time zones away.
“Three years ago, we'd see that 60 percent or 70 percent of the molds were being made in Asia and 40 percent to 30 percent in the U.S.,” he said. “That's definitely flip-flopped now.”