Pioneer Plastics Inc. is expanding its capacity as it readies for more work in the medical market. So far this year, it has already spent over $3 million to add more equipment.
“We are sitting in a medical market area and we've really never pursued it before, but we are looking at it and will see what we can do. Minnesota has lots of medical companies,” said Minou Hussain, CEO of the Eagan, Minn.-based company, in a phone interview.
Earlier this year, in April, Pioneer sold its Thermotech Inc. division to AP Plasman Inc. The deal included over 600 employees. It had headquarters and a production plant in Hopkins, Minn., as well as three plants in Mexico.
“I just sold Thermotech because it was the right timing. The market is good,” he added.
“Now it is on something new. After selling Thermatech, I didn't want to retire in the Bahamas, but I wanted something more challenging, more exciting and rewarding,” said Hussain.
Hussain said that Pioneer will be a lot smaller than it was, but that he sees a lot of potential in the medical market.
The company has a 60,000-square-foot facility in Eagan that includes a Class 10,000 clean room. Pioneer also has a 30,000-square-foot plant in Lexington, Ill. Overall, it has about 100 U.S. employees and 50 in China. It also has a 6.000-square-foot operation in Shenzhen, China that it uses for mostly tool and die work, and has machinery for testing tools.
Pioneer purchased 12 Sodick injection molding machines this year — nine for use in the United States and three for its China facility. It also purchased a 620-ton Arburg and four Toshibas.
Hussain said that he prefers the precision of the Sodick machines and he has close to 60 of them, ranging from 60 to 300 tons. Seven are in China and used for testing. He said that they have compact design, are energy efficient and that by using the Kistler cavity sensors, he has greater control and can access the machine wirelessly.
Pioneer will celebrate 30 years in business in September. It started by making small parts for 3M, and did a lot of work for IBM when it concentrated on computers.
He sees the medical market as something that takes lots of documentation, precision, but also sees a market that he wants to explore. Hussain said that Pioneer upgraded its quality department and is ready for its newest challenge.
“We've spent $3 million so far and we're not done yet,” he said.