A funny thing happened on the expected journey to wind down production: Business started to grow.
Amaray, for years now, has understood it is in a contracting business, making media cases for DVDs and video games.
Fewer and fewer games and movies are being sold on discs as our lives become more digital. So Amaray started making plans to buckle up and ride the market down for as long as it could while diversifying.
But Amaray has been able to survive where others have failed due, in part, to its intellectual portfolio, including hundreds of patents, and high level of automation, CEO Jim Sykes said.
He was brought on board in early 2014 to help chart a plan for growth outside of media packaging while still maintaining Amaray's share of that business.
"It is absolutely an effort to diversify our business mix into more growth industries and applications," Sykes said.
"We had to define what we were good at. Where we can add value? And where we landed was really our core value proposition was around high volume, highly automated, highly efficient plastic solutions in high-cost labor geographies. So we landed on certain markets, CPG [consumer packaged goods], personal care, some niches in food and beverage," Sykes said.
"The new businesses and the new industries and the new applications that we're integrating are not too dissimilar to what we're really good at," Sykes said.
And that's running highly automated operations that provide a series of secondary processes. For DVD or gaming cases, that means injection molding polypropylene cases, stamping logos and welding outside film sleeves to hold covers, for example. From there, the cases are stacked and packed without any human intervention.
The company can incorporate "up to six secondary processes per molding machine cell with no direct labor," Sykes said.
"That is the concept we're looking to bring to these new markets. It's not necessarily rocket science. ... But we can compete because we have a large buy and leverage on the resins side, the materials side, and because we can contain direct labor [costs] as good as I've ever seen it done.