Waste and recycling container maker Otto Environmental Systems North America Inc. ended up spending about 18 months and about $18 million improving infrastructure, adding manufacturing capacity and preparing the company for growth.
But the journey, which included a complete shutdown of injection molding operations in parts of May and June wasn't exactly easy, according to company CEO Robert Engle.
Now that Charlotte, N.C.-based Otto is back online, he said the company, which uses high density polyethylene to make waste and recycling carts, is stronger than ever.
Engle arrived at the company about 3½ years ago and set out to increase asset utilization at a company that was only using about 50 percent of its operating capacity.
As business grew, it became apparent that aging infrastructure could not keep up with the increasing production and had to be addressed, Engle explained.
“It was a tough decision for the company because it was realized after we had a number of growth initiatives in play. So we had a lot new business coming in the door, and we realized we weren't going to be able to service the customers the way they needed to be serviced,” Engle remembered.
“We've gone through the whole infrastructure,” he said. “We added new presses. We added about 30 percent capacity to our output in the waste container business.”
Otto also has increased capacity by about 40 percent in its contract molding business, International Contract Molding LLC, which makes parts for outside customers.