MDS Manufacturing LLC, a custom injection molder, is upping capacity and adding liquid silicone molding capabilities.
MDS, located in St. Louis, recently purchased two Engel LIM machines — a 110 ton machine and a 60 ton machine — as well as auxiliary equipment.
With the new addition, the family-owned business now has nine injection presses ranging in size from 60-400 tons.
MDS specializes in custom plastic injection molding and offers secondary services like printing and assembly.
The company primarily serves the infant care business — it makes parts for Dr. Brown's brand baby bottles and breast pumps — as well as parts for the outdoor recreation, toy and retail display markets.
Moving into silicone will allow the company to make more infant care products like nipples, pacifiers, and silicone overmolded plates, forks and spoons — items typically made in China, said co-owner David Skaggs by phone.
Silicone also moves the company into an underserved market. There are no other companies doing custom silicone molding in the Midwest, Skaggs said, so people have to look to the East or West Coast, or overseas, for custom molded products.
“In St. Louis everybody seems to have a niche… This was a niche that we saw that we thought people could use here in the Midwest,” he said.
The company is also able to compete price-wise with Chinese companies, Skaggs said.
Because it's a small operation, MDS can build tooling at a decent price, he said. “We don't have a lot of labor because we're making the tools the right way. We can take the labor out if it.”
MDS was founded in March 2010 by David Skaggs and his brother Mike Skaggs. In the beginning, the company had three employees, including both brothers, and ran three Nissei presses, David Skaggs said.
The company now has 14 full-time employees across three shifts and plans to hire 3 to 5 new people by the end of the year.
The company is also planning to see an uptick in sales. MDS had sales between $2.4 million and $2.7 million in 2012 and should have $2.8 million to $3.5 million in sales this year, Skaggs said.
Skaggs plans to continue expanding the business and expects to add another silicone machine and one or two injection machines by the end of the year.
MDS may have more than doubled its machines, but it's still a family business at its core.
“We're just a family business. We're trying to go back to the old way of doing things. We take care of our people,” Skaggs said, adding that the company is the kind of place where everyone sits down for lunch together.
“It's kind of an old-fashioned, kick back, throw-back kind of deal. So far we've been successful,” he said.