Decatur Plastic Products Inc. is investing $3 million in job training and an expansion at its two facilities in North Vernon, Ind.
As part of the expansion, the custom injection molder is modernizing and updating its injection molding facility, which includes its corporate headquarters, as well as installing new equipment. Decatur also has a target of creating up to 40 jobs over the next year.
“We've redone the floor layout,” Gary Riley Jr., vice president of supply chain, said in a Nov. 13 phone interview. “We feel like it's been optimized now, so that we can have operators running multiple presses, whereas before it was more one to one.”
The company has also installed overhead cranes to help operators manage mold changes.
“We used to do mold changes via forklift in the past, so this is much more efficient and a lot safer,” Riley said.
Decatur is adding two more injection molding machines to the facility, bringing the total to 23 presses with clamping forces ranging from 55-1,574 tons.
For job training, Decatur has implemented the Routsis Training system at its injection molding facility, where employees can manage their own skills and development with mold technology training modules. The company has been offered up to $75,000 in conditional training grants from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. dependent on documented training hours.
“As [employees] move up in the training modules, they gain levels and then their pay goes up,” Riley said.
At its flocking facility in North Vernon, Decatur has increased its number of flock lines and installed an automated flock line, where a robot applies the flock to the parts and places them on the oven.
The company, which primarily serves the automotive industry at its Indiana facilities, sees the expansion as a way of getting new customer opportunities — one of which includes Faurecia, a French auto interior supplier.
Decatur is manufacturing and flocking glove boxes for the 2019 Dodge Ram pickups for Faurecia, which has largely driven some of its capacity expansion, Riley said.
“We continue to win some new business through Faurecia,” he added. “So much so that Faurecia will become our No. 1 customer in overall sales by 2019.”
Decatur has 123 employees at its injection molding facility and 58 employees at its flocking plant. Outside of its Indiana locations, the company has two more facilities in Gadsden, Ala., for flocking and injection molding.
Riley's family, which includes his father, Gary Sr.; mother, Yu Cha; and brother, Robert — purchased Decatur from previous owner John Kussman for an undisclosed amount in 2016. The family also owns Ningbo Global Sourcing Co. Ltd., a full-service supply chain and manufacturing supplier that helps middle market companies source products and components from low-cost regions. The company is based in Ningbo, China, with additional locations in Malaysia and Fort Wayne, Ind.