Knowing all the aspects of custom molder Hy-Ten Plastics Inc.'s business has helped newly named President Cassandra McCullough build the company.
“She has really organized the company, so give her credit. She had to work at it and figure out what we had to do — our costing and what we needed to do different and how we could be more efficient,” said Udo Fritsch, CEO and co-owner of the Milford, N.H., company with his brother Franz.
McCullough started 7 years ago as the accounting manager, and after three months was promoted to controller. After a year she was named acting president while continuing as controller.
This summer at age 40, she formally was named president. Fritsch said that he was impressed by what she has accomplished and felt she was the right person to continue to lead the company.
Hy-Ten currently has 60 employees, operating out of a 35,000-square-foot facility. It has 22 injection molding presses ranging from 55 to 385 tons. Six of the machines are located in a Class 8 clean room that is also used for assembly work.
The company operates primarily Niigata machines but also has two Nisssei in the clean room.
McCullough takes pride in the fact they are “debt-free.” She said that sales were up 47 percent last fiscal year and are on track to gain 20 percent this year.
However, that hasn't stopped her from updating the company's machinery. Over the last six years, they've replaced seven older hydraulic machines with all-electric. This year, they've added two Niigata presses — a 110 and a 200, both for the clean room. By June of 2015, they are planning to expand their range with a 500 ton Niigata.
The company also strengthened its prototyping, adding a Fortus 400 3-D printer in 2013. It is also participating in a program to use ABS to make trial injection molds that can be used to produce small numbers of parts.
She said that her approach is to be hands on — she knows most of the jobs, whether it be assembly, running a machine or working in shipping and receiving. She said that it is important in accounting to know what it takes to do each job.
McCullough is a graduate of Franklin Pierce College where she learned accounting. She later worked for a wire and cable company where she learned about extrusion and injection molding.
“To be successful, you have to understand what I call the guts of the business — the general ledger and costing. If you don't know what it costs to produce a part, you'll never be successful,” said McCullough.
She said that when she came to Hy-Ten, she said that she worked hard to make sure the costs of each job were properly done.
“When I first took the position as acting president, there were still some customers hesitant to work with me, being a woman, and who didn't take me seriously, but I enjoy a challenge,' she said.
She said that knowing the right tolerances to use, the right materials and even how to read 3-D prints has enabled her to break down the barriers and get the jobs done.
McCullough said that they also have strong quality controls in place and take pride in regular visits to their customers.
Automation, including using more sprue pickers, conveyor belts and more efficient grinders were all ways to cut costs.
Hy-Ten deals with many industries such as medical, oil, automotive, firearms and the general consumer.
McCullough is succeeding and sees that there is a place in the workforce for more women.
“I would like to believe there is a future for more women to succeed in higher management within manufacturing,” she said.