Thermoset plastics firm Mar-Bal Inc. will move its Ohio production from Chagrin Falls to Painesville by the end of the year, providing more space and allowing the company to increase external sales of thermoset compounds.
The $15 million project includes moving into a 110,700-square-foot building that will almost double the space that Chagrin Falls-based Mar-Bal now has for manufacturing. The firm's headquarters and R&D lab will remain in Chagrin Falls, officials said in a recent interview with Plastics News.
New compounding lines for bulk molding compounds in Painesville will double Mar-Bal's annual production capacity companywide, President Scott Balogh said. Compounding work done at a Mar-Bal plant in Missouri will be moved to the Painesville site, which is about 30 miles north of the Chagrin Falls location.
The Painesville building previously was occupied by injection molder Core Systems, which closed in 2013. Mar-Bal hired many Core employees after that site closed.
The compounding expansion is part of an overall business strategy, according to Balogh.
"We always had sold some material outside of the company, in addition to what we use for our own molding, but we had lost focus," he said. "This will give us a renewed focus."
Global marketing and brands director Ron Poff added that Mar-Bal had been asked by several customers to do more in compounding.
"There's been a lot of consolidation in our market," he explained. "We can get into competitive situations without being seen as a competitor."
After the compounding expansion is complete, Mar-Bal plans to install new injection molding machines in Painesville that will increase the firm's molding capacity there by 40 percent by the end of 2018. An additional round of expansion should take place in Painesville within the next five years, Balogh said.
Mar-Bal has added automotive and heating and air conditioning markets to its client list in the appliance, electrical, industrial and transportation sectors, and its sales in all those markets have been growing. Its "legacy business" in electrical and industrial products also is recovering after a down period, Balogh said.
"We've seen a large increase on the appliance side and in HVAC and heavy trucks," he added.
At the end of that five-year period, Mar-Bal expects to employ around 250 in Painesville — double the number it currently employs in manufacturing in Chagrin Falls. Mar-Bal is also receiving financial support for the project from the JobsOhio nonprofit group and from the city of Painesville.
When Mar-Bal announced the purchase of the Painesville site in June, Balogh said in a news release that, when completed, the new plant "will be the best fully integrated BMC compounding and molding plant in the world."
Mar-Bal custom molds thermosets and molds proprietary electrical standoff insulators under the Glastic and Mar-Bal tradenames. The products are based on thermoset polyester and contain flame retardants and track-resistant glass fibers.
Jim Balogh, Scott's father, founded Mar-Bal in 1970 in Cleveland. Scott Balogh's brother, Steven, also serves as a vice president for the firm. Mar-Bal has manufacturing operations in Chagrin Falls; Cuba, Mo.; Dublin, Va.; and Taizhou, China. The firm also has an Asia sales office in Shanghai.
Mar-Bal employs 475 worldwide and expects to post sales of around $65 million in 2017.