CLEVELAND — Custom thermoformer Amros Industries Inc. has doubled in size over the past several years, thanks to a high-volume business: Protective wheel covers for new cars.
Amros ships the covers to car assembly plants, where they get snapped onto the wheels before shipment. The dealership removes them and installs the hubcaps.
Amros President Gregory Shteyngarts filed for U.S. patent on the tooling apparatus to make the protective cover in August. The patent is pending.
The key design innovation is the molded part that fits into the cylindrical hub in the center of the wheel. Shteyngarts developed a fixture mounted on the mold with metal projections — also called “grippers” and “fingers” in the patent — that extend outward. This creates notched sections on the finished cover that fit securely into the wheel's center hole.
After each cover is thermoformed, from PVC sheet, the projected fingers retract so the part can be removed from the mold. Amros machines all components of the cam-type mechanism, which uses air pressure and vacuum to actuate the device.
Shteyngarts said Amros has formed more than 10 million covers since production began in 2012. The company has steadily added sizes, and now turns out covers for wheels of diameters from 16 to 21 inches, said Angie Helcbergier, vice president of operations.
The wheel covers are running on seven of the 17 thermoforming machines at Amros' plant in Cleveland.
Five years ago, Amros employed 23 people and generated sales of $4.6 million. According to Shteyngarts, the company now employs 45 and generates about $10 million in annual sales. The company added a second shift.