Custom injection molder Lakeside Plastics Ltd. is poised to capitalize on renewed growth in the automotive market.
Lakeside President Glenn Coates said his firm invested US$6 million in machinery and automation last year and another US$2 million to connect and expand its three adjacent facilities in Windsor, Ontario. Injection molding sales since the 2009 recession have grown 79 percent to US$46.3 million in 2011, he said in a telephone interview.
Coates predicts his firm will hit the $50.5 million mark in 2012.
Lakeside molds and assembles for General Motors Co. and Tier 1 auto plants in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The privately held firm last year won its third consecutive supplier of the year award from GM. Lakeside also last year received its fourth consecutive supplier achievement award from major customer Johnson Controls Inc.
Lakeside's biggest business is molding interior components for 10 different GM platforms. Last year it added to its roster 13 injection presses with clamping forces up to 3,500 tons. It now runs 45 presses in Windsor. In the past year Lakeside has added four new major contracts. It contracts out tooling requirements but it provides a range of secondary services. Assembly of imported components is an important part of its work, Coates said.
He said Lakeside has stressed the employee culture underlying its progress since 2009. “We try hard to have a culture steeped in safety and quality,” he said. “We do very well in our communications to employees.”
The company publishes a daily newsletter and encourages employees to contribute and submit suggestions. In the past year, Lakeside hired 125 new workers to boost its ranks to 340, a peak in the 35-year-old firm's history.
“It's important to stay close to your people.”
In addition to more molding capacity, Lakeside has invested in automation and now counts on data-collection controls on all of its presses to keep an update of inventory. It also has invested in green technologies such as recovering waste heat from the molding rooms to modulate the temperature in its warehouse and distribution operation. It upgraded its lighting system and converted its lift-truck fleet to electric models that can recharge during idle shifts.
“We always try to keep costs low,” Coates said.