Injection molder Labcon North America Inc. may receive up to $800,000 in California tax credits as part of an expansion that is seeing it add staff and space.
The California Competes Tax Credit committee approved $91.4 million in tax credits for 114 companies committing to expand and create more than 8,233 jobs in the state.
Under a five-year tax credit allocation agreement, Labcon, a Petaluma, Calif.-based maker of disposable laboratory products, agreed to a net increase of 47 full-time employees and capital investments of $17,420,000 through the 2021 tax year.
Labcon employed 168 fulltime as of Dec. 31 and now employs 230 including temporary workers and outside sales staff, Jim Happ, president, said in an interview.
Labcon operates 65 Nissei, Toyo and Arburg injection molding machines with clamping forces up to 240 tons and has 35 product-line-dedicated robots from Oguchi, Japan-based Star Seiki Co. Ltd.
In July, Nissei will deliver two 55-ton presses that Labcon will squeeze into its factory.
"We will bring in two more presses later this year and four or five in the future," Happ said.
Products include pipet tips, aerosol filter tips, Pagoda- and Eclipse-brand pipet tip refill systems, robotic pipet tips, automated tip delivery systems, centrifuge tubes and culture tubes.
"We export 35 percent overseas," he said. That compares to exporting of 10 percent in 1997.
"A lot of manufacturing is coming back to the U.S.," he noted.
Labcon began automating operations in 2002 and manufactures 5 million parts daily. "Originally 15 years ago, we made 1 million parts per day," Happ said. "We make 90 percent of what we sell."
In 2011, Labcon installed 3,000 solar panels in its broader quest to be "a green company."
In another sustainability effort, Labcon has was able to eliminate about 90 percent of the Pagoda and Eclipse packaging — mostly plastics — by nesting the products together. "They are easy to export and reload existing racks," he said.
Happ said the current lack of space is requiring Labcon to slow its growth to about 5 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. Sales increased 9 percent in the previous fiscal year. Labcon withholds sales data.
In 2014, Labcon purchased an additional 80,000-square-foot building on 10 acres. "We will break ground in May for a 40,000-square-foot addition," Happ said. "We have been working on the permits for a year and a half."
Once the new distribution space is available in January, Labcon aims to "free up 30,000 to 40,000 in our building for more manufacturing," he said.
Construction, infrastructure and equipment are projected to account for capital investment of about $6 million.
The business was founded in 1959 as Ways and Means Inc. and officially adopted the Labcon identity in 1994.
Helena Laboratories Corp. of Beaumont, Texas, acquired the business in 1982 and operates Labcon as a subsidiary.
Here are details on three other tax-credit recipients with plastics industry ties:
• The California operations of 3D Systems Corp. of Rock Hill, S.C., received a tax credit of $550,000 for a net increase of 89 employees to 266 and an investment of $8 million, primarily in San Diego for work now in process for executive offices, research and development facilities and a customer innovation center.
The higher California employment also involves R&D operations in Valencia and San Francisco and an entertainment division site in Burbank.
Products and services from publicly traded 3D Systems include three-dimensional printers, print materials, on-demand parts services and digital design tools.
• Operations of the GF Piping Systems division of Georg Fischer AG of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, received a tax credit of $500,000 for a net increase of 42 employees to 288 and investment of $5.4 million for manufacturing equipment in three California locations.
Primarily, the sites make piping systems of plastics and metal for the transportation of liquids and gases, lightweight components in vehicles and research and development equipment.
The California operations include measurement and control technology unit Georg Fischer Signet LLC in El Monte, vinyl piping systems maker Georg Fischer Harvel LLC in Bakersfield and industrial piping systems extruder Georg Fischer LLC of Irvine.
• Desktop 3D printer specialist MatterHackers Inc. of Foothill Ranch, Calif., received a tax credit of $380,000 for a net increase of 77 employees to 97 and investment of $1.2 million.
The firm plans to add another facility to continue its growth in retail distribution and development of technology for the under-$10,000 3D printer market and its proprietary made-to-specification Pro Series 3D filaments of ABS, nylon, glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate and polylactic acid.
MatterHackers distributes other 3D printer filaments including carbon-fiber-reinforced NylonX, sells custom-assembled Pulse 3D printers and offers its standalone 3D printer controller MatterControl Touch T10 with a 5.0 megapixel onboard camera.
Since 2014, the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, known as Go-Biz, has allocated $492.5 million to 688 companies projected to create 70,747 new jobs and make $14.4 billion in new investments. California started the economic development initiative in 2013. Go-Biz disclosed the 114 recipients in an April 14 announcement.