Diversified Engineering & Plastics LLC is adding new equipment and making improvements to its 70,000-square-foot facility in Jackson, Mich.
The facility — known as "Building 3" by the injection molder — is getting a new roof. In addition, employee restrooms on the shop floor will be remodeled as well as the production office, which houses supervisors and process technicians, according to Nick Quillen, DEP's general manager who also oversees business development.
"Those are the big projects, so a complete remodel," he said in an Aug. 8 phone interview. "Basically, demoing the existing space and starting new."
Office space near the front of the facility will also get a slight remodel, with the company opting for a more open and collaborative work environment in lieu of "lots of walls" and closed off areas, Quillen explained.
"Big, open spaces — that's the vision," he said. "It's kind of a work in progress. We've got some drawings and designs, but it's not anywhere close to being complete."
Quillen said the goal is to have the work completed within the next year. He estimated the company's investment in the improvements to be around $1 million.
At the start of 2018, DEP purchased three new robots as well as some conveying and auxiliary equipment that are currently up and running in Building 3. The three-axis robots are from Yushin America Inc.
"The idea is just so a lot of our operators are focused more on the quality of a part versus moving parts around," Quillen said of the automation equipment.
Within the next six months, DEP also plans to add a total of five workers. Two of which — an engineering manager and a process technician — have already been hired.
And in the next two years, Quillen said the company plans to add an additional 10 workers, depending on overall growth.
"We're constantly adding, whether it's molding operators or higher level technical people, so really the goal is to continue hiring, looking for people who are going to work on the manufacturing floor, but also have the technical skills," he said.
DEP, which primarily serves suppliers to the automotive and heavy truck industries, is also eyeing growth in other markets, such as consumer products, as it looks to diversify its customer base. The company's overall business strategy includes bringing on a minimum of three new customers in the next two years.
Quillen said the company is already ahead of schedule with that goal and is set to work with a new customer in the automotive and aerospace industries early next year.
And in September, DEP is starting production on a program for a part that will ship to a Tier 1 supplier and end up on the 2019 Ford Ranger midsize pickup.
"Sales have been very steady and very good, and 2019 is looking even brighter with our new supplier," Quillen said. "It's a lengthy process to bring on new suppliers, but we're feeling really positive about the outlook."
DEP employs 75 workers and operates out of two other facilities at the Jackson site: a roughly 65,000-square-foot building and an adjacent 15,000-square-foot building.
The company joined Plastics News' annual listing of North American injection molders this year, ranking No. 287 and reporting sales of $15 million in 2017.