Custom injection molder Agapé Plastics Inc. is bulking up its large-tonnage press strength in a $14-million expansion of its Grand Rapids, Mich., facility.
Agapé is adding manufacturing floor space and equipment while it upgrades infrastructure to accommodate presses with clamps up to 1,950 tons, nearly double its biggest current presses.
“Several customers have asked us to mold larger parts,” said Agapé President and CEO David Cornelius in a phone interview. The company will include a heavy-duty floor structure in the 57,600-square-foot addition it is constructing and add movable cranes to handle the big molds for large-part molding jobs.
Agapé now runs 36 presses with clamps from 85 to 1,000 tons and plans to add three more this year and as many as eight next year, Cornelius predicted.
“We're out of room,” Cornelius explained.
The company does the majority of its work in the automotive sector but has been branching into consumer products recently. It also has customers in furniture and equipment industries. It does a lot of insert molding so some of its presses are vertical machines.
Agapé will start construction of the building addition in August and hopes to finish it in February 2016. Part of the project includes mitigating the operation's impact on an adjacent wetland, for which it required Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approval.
Cornelius said the expansion could add 50 new jobs over three years. The current workforce is about 165. Agapé has been awarded $300,000 in grants based on performance through the Michigan Business Development Program and it qualifies for property tax abatement from the Tallmadge Charter Township.
Tom Alt founded Agapé in 1973 and it remains a family owned business. It entered auto parts production 10 years later after startup when it landed new business for Oldsmobile vehicles, a program that expanded into a series of insert-molded fasteners that were core to its work in the sector. The insert molding expertise led to contracts with several vehicle parts producers and OEMs. By 2009 Agapé had entered the 1,000-ton press club and now it wants to go a step further in tonnage capabilities.