Updated — Midwest Molding Inc. is opening an injection molding facility in Ooltewah, Tenn., about 20 miles east of Chattanooga. The site will operate as Southeast Molding Inc. starting in May.
The injection molder, based in Plain City, Ohio, said the additional facility will allow the company to grow and gain new customers, including automotive suppliers, in the southeastern United States.
“We felt like it kind of killed two birds with one stone, where we could open up some space — more space for our existing Ohio customers — and at the same time it would also introduce us to a new area of the country,” Bill Razor, president of Midwest Molding, said in a Feb. 19 phone interview.
The company's Plain City headquarters in Ohio cover an estimated 110,000 square feet: a 60,000-square-foot main facility, plus 50,000 square feet at an off-site warehouse. The leased building in Ooltewah is 10,000 square feet, with room to expand to roughly 17,000 square feet.
Midwest Molding is investing more than $750,000 in the Ooltewah facility, Razor said. Part of the investment includes transferring some injection molding machines from Ohio to Tennessee as well as purchasing new ones. The site will initially house four to five presses in the 55- to 200-ton range. A 390-ton press will be added later on, he said.
“As needed, we'll purchase machines,” Razor said. “We have the space currently to add up to 14 machines, but that will come as the business grows.”
The Ooltewah facility will employ 10 workers, including 30-year plastics veteran Rich Lester, who will serve as operations manager for the site. Razor said within the next five years, the site could employ up to 40.
Midwest Molding manufactures and assembles a variety of components for the automotive, consumer and industrial markets such as clips, fasteners and large housings up to 6 pounds. At its main facility in Ohio, the company has 36 injection molding machines ranging from 45-950 tons. Companywide, Midwest Molding has 100 employees.
“We don't plan to go after the OEM business, but we've definitely been a solid Tier 2 automotive supplier and that's what we've built our Ohio business on,” Razor said.
For the auto industry, specifically, Razor said the company “molds a little bit of everything,” including various under-the-hood components, metal replacement parts and cosmetic parts.
“We've been able to grow pretty rapidly in Ohio. … We also feel there's a need down [in Tennessee] for a Tier 2 automotive molder,” he said. “That's what we really think is going to help us.”