Larry Saffran, now a second-generation owner, came to work for his father in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in industrial technology, an MBA and experience as a plastics engineer. Bringing Larry onboard as general manager allowed Mort to hand off day-to-day operations to his son while Mort worked next door at a metal stamping business he also owned.
"When I started as general manager, we were mostly a commodity-type molder. But through sales efforts and industry knowledge, we moved more toward engineering applications and higher-end materials. We got more into nylons, polycarbonates and polyesters," said Saffran, who rose from GM to vice president to president in his first 10 years at Stelray.
Stelray made a strategic move in 1997 with the purchase of Aero Med Molding Technologies, which was based in Orleans, Mass., on Cape Cod.
"That launched us more into medical and aerospace. It was a nice move that is still paying dividends to this day. We got a good customer base. The downside for me was I was an absentee owner for that business with a lot of shuttling back and forth [between Massachusetts and Connecticut]," Saffran said.
By 2004, Saffran had moved the Aero Med business completely to Connecticut and put everything under the Stelray brand. In addition, he sold off the metal stamping business, which allowed Stelray to move into that facility and expand its manufacturing footprint to 35,000 square feet from 15,000 square feet.
"We took the initial Stelray building and made that a dedicated molding facility. All machines and quality control are in the first building. All non-core, support, tooling and offices are in the metal stamping building," he said.
Today, Stelray is a $6 million-a-year business and Saffran believes the injection molder has a bright future based on recent results.
Stelray's sales will grow by 8 percent to 10 percent this year, he said, as the company invests it in digital and social media marketing along with participating in two or three trade shows per year.