An expanding Pennsylvania injection molder is finding success in a highly competitive segment of the business.
Erie Molded Plastics Inc. dates to 1982 when Phil Tredway founded the company. Tredway still runs the operation, and his son Tom Tredway works as vice president of sales.
But the Tredways are keen to point out that even though its stock closures business is driving growth these days, the company could not be achieving success without its employees.
"In the past four years, we've about doubled in size. There's a lot of growing pains that come with the growth. To do that, you have to have dedicated employees really believe in the company," Tom Tredway said. "We're fortunate to have that."
"We've got a great team here," CEO Phil Tredway said. "They've helped us grow."
That includes workers who are being asked to do more and more as the company continues to expand operations, he explained.
As part of its growth, Erie Molded Plastics is in the market with a rebranding of its packaging business as EMP Closures.
The company's latest expansion includes two new injection molding machines as well as an additional high-speed lining machine that's helping the company keep up with demand in the stock closures market. The new lining machine will help alleviate a production bottleneck that has developed with increased production over time.
Erie Molded Plastics started making stock closures about 11 years ago. Now packaging, both custom and stock, accounts for about 65 percent of the company's business. Other custom work accounts for the remaining 35 percent.
The closures business is strong in both the food and nutraceuticals market, and wide-mouth closures are an important focus. The custom business does a wide variety of work, including products for the consumer goods, appliance, construction, pharmaceutical and electronics segments.
About 90 percent of the closures the company sells include liners.
Stock closures provide both challenges and opportunities for the company that employs about 60. Being in the stock business means the company must keep a close eye on costs and lead times.
Adding new equipment allows the company to remain competitive and can even provide an advantage when it comes to lead times compared with larger competitors that typically handle bigger orders.
"There's a niche that works well for us. I call it medium volume orders," Phil Tredway said. "For us, if it's a 10-skid order, that's a good order. So we've got a good niche there."
The company also has found success in providing closures to packaging distributors in recent years. "That's a market where medium and small order sizes are more common," Tom Tredway said. "As long as you can get to the right price, which we've figured out how to get to the right price, we found there is enough appetite for a company that can provide good service."
While the company decided to diversify into stock closures as a way to even out business, the custom work is still very important. But that segment can be impacted by the economy as well as customer decisions to move their business around, the men explained.
"It gave us more control of our destiny," Tom Tredway said. "Over the years we saw more opportunity, better control of our destiny in the stock closures packaging world."
"The most recent [equipment] additions are to just meet the increasing demands of our stock closure business. We've seen some significant growth over the past three years," he said.
The company has invested an estimated $2 million during the past three years on packaging related molds, presses and automation to keep pace.