Orlando, Fla. — In its 60th anniversary year, Hong Kong-based injection molding press maker Chen Hsong Holdings Ltd. is trying again to crack the U.S. and Canadian markets, led by a focused team of veterans at CH-America.
CH-America officials say Chen Hsong's two-platen machine, displayed at NPE2018, is drawing attention from customers.
CH-America President Ken Heyse said NPE2018 was the official kickoff, but the U.S. operation has been in the works for more than a year. CH-America leaders have been "Americanizing" the machines and making trips to Chen Hsong in China.
"Now we're completely operational. The website [CH-America.com] is operational; sales literature is operational. We're signing agents. I've got to tell you, a lot of people know these machines from other markets, and they're very happy to see it over here. We're getting a lot of interest and selling a lot of machines in a very short period of time," Heyse said an in interview at Chen Hsong's NPE booth.
Heyse owns Plastics One Inc. in Torrington, Conn., which buys and sells used plastics machinery, and is the North American distributor of new Apex-brand robots and does appraisal work.
CH-America is operating out Torrington and the Detroit area, where Engineered Plastics Equipment Co. is the sales representative agency, Erik Eggen is national sales manager of CH-America. Both locations will stock Chen Hsong machines and handle sales, parts and service.
Heyse said the plan is to get a dedicated facility for CH-America in Detroit.
CH-America also has a sales office in Dallas, and Heyse said the company plans to put a service engineer there. CH-America signed an agent for the Dallas region at NPE2018. Eggen said the business also has rep agencies covering the Western and Southwest states.
Heyse said CH-America is packaging the injection presses with Apex robots.
Chen Hsong, one of the largest injection press makers in the world, has sold injection molding machines in the United States since 1993, mostly through sales reps. But the company has experienced some fits and starts. In 2000, Chen Hsong opened its first direct sales office for the United States and Canada, with a facility near Toronto, as a company official said the strategy to sell through different sales representatives in the United States did not work.
Gluco Inc., a Michigan maker of vertical injection molding machines, had been the exclusive U.S. sales agent for Chen Hsong since 2011. But last fall, Gluco ended its agreement with Chen Hsong and became the exclusive U.S. distributor for Multiplas vertical injection presses from Taiwan.
Heyse said Chen Hsong was focused on the huge Chinese market and sold machines in South America and Europe.
"They didn't feel like they were ready to support the volume that they would like to get in the United States market. So it was just kind of limping along, if you will," he said.
But Heyse said Chen Hsong is making a solid commitment to CH-America. Top officials from Hong Kong were at NPE2018, including Stephen Chung, the executive director and group chief officer of strategy, sale and marketing.
The core of the CH-America team is a group of four industry veterans with more than 50 years of combined experience.
"They didn't want to do that again, ever," Heyse said of the past attempts. "So, this has been very carefully planned out. I will tell you that the amount of preparation and attention — they have two senior executives from Chen Hsong here all week at NPE. That's a huge amount of horsepower for a startup type of venture."
Heyse said CH-America has made sure the presses are fully suited to the U.S. market. "That was the big thing that wasn't done before," he said. "So the platens are SPI platens. The auxiliary interfaces are SPI. The sockets for your hot runner controls and valve gates are correct," he said. The Chen Hsong presses use Rexroth and Vickers valves.
Controllers on Chen Hsong toggle machines are B&R. Beckhoff controllers are used on the two-platen machine.
Heyse said the two-platen machine got a lot of attention at NPE2018, where an SM700 TP press molded stackable crates.
Chen Hsong has been making large two-platen servo-hydraulic molding machines for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Plastic Technology Co. Ltd., which is now owned by Ube Machinery Corp. Ltd. Mitsubishi and Ube are both Japanese injection press makers.
"[The Chen Hsong press] is a high quality, Japanese-inspired two-platen machine. It's very much a Japanese machine that's built in China. The steel is high quality. The engineering is of high quality. And the lead times are great," Heyse said.