Working with biocomposite resins, Apex Resource Technologies Inc. is creating a niche for itself in the medical field and is responding by moving to a larger facility and adding more high-tech equipment.
“We purchased a building so that we have more of a campus setting. It is 42,000 square feet,” said Don Rochelo, COO and chairman of Pittsfield, Mass.-based Apex, in a phone interview.
He said the company had occupied two building sections in the industrial park, but with the purchase they were able to consolidate three sections so that all operations are under roof. The company invested about $800,000 to upgrade the building.
The company made the move in July — “we moved the entire tool shop in three days and it was operational in 2 weeks,” he said.
Rochelo said they also made significant purchases of technology and equipment in the past year or so. The company expanded its tool room with the purchase of a Lablond Makino high-speed CNC, added all-electric molding machines, and two Micro-Vu automated measuring systems. It added a Niigata 110-ton injection press when it moved in, and has added four other all-electric medical molding machines in the last year.
Overall, it operates 23 injection molding presses, ranging from 40 to 385 tons of clamping force. The machines are Niigata and Arburg. The company has Class 8 clean room space.
He said about 70 percent of Apex Resource's work is medical. It specializes in making products such as screws and anchors that are implantable in the body. It is also doing all the plastic work for the instrumentation portion used in knee replacement product for a major orthopedic company. Due to confidentiality agreements it cannot name its customers.
“What we really do is really hard work, because of the resin and the nature of the products — implantable screws and anchors, they're all different sizes,” he said.
It's a growing business, but Rochelo notes that learning the business is not something where you follow a manual — you learn by experience. In other segments, you can add the machinery as you pick up the business, but in working with implantables, customers seek only the experienced companies having the right equipment already in place.
He said it is important to have qualified engineers who are disciplined in medical molding and also to have the proper quality systems. It does also require plenty of paperwork.
“The quality of your people is essential, especially if you want to operate at the highest level,” said Rochelo.
The company has 75 employees.
Rochelo owns Apex Resource with his wife Donna. She is the president and largest shareholder, so the company was able to earn National Women's Business Enterprise certificate.
Apex also worked with rebates from the Western Mass. Electric Co. to get help making the building efficient. It added $120,000 in LED lighting and also purchased all-electric machines.
Apex builds its own molds, but Rochelo notes that it is a captive shop, and it does supply other companies as well.
He said the company has learned to work with the various materials over years.
“With biocomposite resins injected molded, I can't tell you what we do because it is proprietary. We do things that you wouldn't do with any other resin. The part formulation is unique for the company you are serving — if you do the part for another company, then the formulation would be different,” he said.