Ronald Brown was known to have a strict management style and definite ideas about how he wanted things done.
He was born in the northern Minnesota town of Virginia and worked in the region's Mesabi Range iron mines. After a layoff, he took his severance pay and, towing a rental trailer behind the car, went to Southern California with his wife Carol and three children.
Relatives there assisted in the initial transition. The Browns had two more children later.
As a design engineer on the move, Brown worked for aerospace firm Lockheed Corp. in Marietta, Ga., and connector maker ITT Cannon in Monroe, La.
Brown entered the plastics industry initially with an injection molder in Walnut, Calif. In 1975, Brown began making injection parts in a business partnership with mold maker Albert Schmid. They terminated the short-lived partnership amicably. Brown took the molding side with Schmid focusing on tool making, and they kept working together on projects. Schmid's business operated as Superior Mold Co., a part of Unit Industries Group Inc. since 2007.
Brown blended “micro” for small and “dyne” for dynamic in crafting the company name. His first injection molding customer sold heating and air conditioning units.
Brown's expertise in design led to early work for the electronics industry including supplying components such as seven-segment fiber optic scramblers to Hewlett-Packard Co.
Lopez said she was the first unpaid employee and, through the years, has performed multiple jobs and functions in shipping, receiving, mold set up, mold running, sales, project management, company representation, business development, quality control and engineering. She took classes at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut but never graduated.
Basically, she learned from her father.
“He was a good teacher,” she said. “He taught me on a chalk drawing board and that led to learning about [computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing].
“We have been fortunate that the five kids picked up his entrepreneurial spirit to continue on,” Lopez said.
In order of age from the oldest to the youngest, Rhonda Torres deals with legal issues, Duane Brown is vice president of sales and project management, Judy Lopez is president, Tracey Kimberlin handles marketing and human resources and Scott Brown is the tooling manager being groomed for duties as general manager.
Their mother, Carol Brown, the original owner of the business in 1975, died in 2009 of cancer.
A sixth family member, Judy's daughter Tracey Lopez, coordinates human resources and customer services.
With Ronald Brown's passing, the five children share Microdyne ownership and a total of nine persons own the 88,900-square-foot building in Colton.
Microdyne expertise supports MRI Interventions Inc. of Irvine, Calif., in its work involving minimally invasive brain and heart surgical procedures.
Recently for specific MRI-related tasks, Microdyne purchased a computer numerical control tool for tapping and a CNC lathe, both from Haas Automation Inc.
“It took us approximately six months to have the 12 molds made and running in production,” Lopez said. MRI assembles 35 components in making the device.
“MRI needs pinpoint accuracy for brain surgery,” she said. MRI's device can cut by one-half the time a patient spends in surgery.
In March in its Colton facility, Microdyne began operating a customer-owned extrusion blow molding machine from Pet All Manufacturing Inc. of Markham, Ontario.
The job uses Chevron's K-Resin-brand styrene-butadiene copolymer as a substitute for glass in making scientific flasks that can compete with those from glass processors such as Corning Inc.
For the same unidentified customer, “we will begin operating a second Pet All machine by the end of December,” Lopez said.
In the environmental market, Microdyne blow molded about 9 million water-shade-conservation balls of high density polyethylene and injection molded the HDPE plug for each. Water partially fills each four-inch-diameter ball to keep winds from lifting it.
End users for open-water reservoir applications have included the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts Inc. in California's San Gabriel Mountains.
Microdyne's shade-balls business partner, XavierC LLC in Glendora, Calif., is exploring potential for the product in various export markets and the hydraulic fracturing industry for natural gas and petroleum extraction.
While scrutinizing carefully, “we work with entrepreneurs and inventors if a product looks viable,” Lopez said.
Microdyne is certified under the ISO 9001:2008 standard, is pursuing ISO 9001:2015 and, in the future, intends to seek ISO 13485 for medical processing. “At that time, we will re-outfit the clean room,” she said. Currently, Microdyne uses the space as a white-room environment and handles MRI work there.
In July, the firm began rewriting its standard operating procedures with consulting guidance from Expert Resource of Upland, Calif. Lopez projects a “six-month journey” for the rewriting and teaching aspects.
In 2011, Microdyne began accessing some of its power from a 651-kilowatt installation of 2,604 monocrystalline silicon-cell solar panels on its plant roof. The installation cost $4.75 million of which the federal government paid 50 percent, the City of Colton 30 percent and Microdyne 20 percent.
“The installation has been beneficial and has saved money, but we have issues and are in discussions with the installers,” Lopez said. Under a lease-to-own program, Microdyne has a buy-out option after six years.
For fiscal year ended Aug. 31, Microdyne had sales of more than $10 million of which blow molding and decorating accounted for 75 percent, injection molding 20 percent and tooling 5 percent. Sales for the previous fiscal year were about the same.
Microdyne has 65 permanent employees and 25 to 35 temporary staff members depending on the work load.
“We are shifting people in accordance with their strengths,” she said. “We are eliminating the three divisions for injection, extrusion and stretch” and actively providing internal and external cross training programs.
“I want to get the temps onboard,” Lopez said. “People like to work here.”