Things are changing yet remaining the same at DeKalb Molded Plastics Co.
The structural foam molder officially has "new" owners, though both have been with the company for years. Rick Walters and Douglas Bonecutter recently bought Jeffrey Rodgers' interest in the company.
Walters and Bonecutter said they're sticking with Rodgers' "winning strategy" of prioritizing employees and engaging with the community and industry. But they also have their eyes on growth.
Walters has been with the company since it opened in 1978 and Rodgers joined as president in 1990. The pair purchased the company in 1997 from JSJ Corp. of Grand Haven, Mich., an investment firm with a portfolio of diversified manufacturing companies.
When Rodgers stepped back from his involvement in the company in 2007, Walters became president, and then CEO as well, though Rodgers continued to act as chairman. Now in his "upper 70s, with a birthday coming up in December," Rodgers is officially retired and enjoying golf with his friends in Florida, Walters said.
"We keep in touch," Walters said in a Nov. 17 phone interview. "He's really supported Doug and myself through this whole journey."
The ownership change became effective Aug. 29. Bonecutter, who joined the company in 2017, is now vice president.
Both men say they are excited about the company's future, which eventually will include some kind of expansion.
"We'd really like to find more space in our facility, whether through an expansion or additional square footage somehow," Walters said.
Bonecutter added: "We are looking for growth. We have a lot of young employees and we want the company to be here a long time."
Walters acknowledged the structural foam molding industry isn't huge, "but there's a lot of interest in it, especially right now."
"We're seeing a lot of great opportunities, a lot of pieces of business coming to us," he said. "We're also looking at what we can do with partnerships. … And maybe looking at another discipline in the plastics industry.
"I don't think too many people get to write a story like this. Doug and I have a lot of similar philosophies. We're just two guys living our dream," he added.
The company employs 75 making pallets, traffic barrels, guardrail reinforcement blocks, medical device housings and cabinets and other components. Some of its products are made of 100 percent recycled resin.
DeKalb's nine injection presses have clamping forces of 300-1,000 tons and a shot capacity up to 150 pounds.
"Everything we do is on the larger size," Walters said.
The Butler, Ind., company's 80,000-square-foot plant also houses a variety of auxiliary molding equipment and machinery for assembly, painting and decorating.