Chicago-area custom molder Makray Manufacturing Co. has closed its doors after 71 years in business, as the company prepares for an auction Dec. 17 that includes 26 injection presses.
Makray officially closed about three weeks ago, after finishing up some molding work for customers, said Paul Makray Jr. He said the wind-down has been happening for a few months.
"We just couldn't get enough work to make it profitable so finally decided to close it down," he said.
He added that the Makray family did not try and sell the operation.
His father, Paul Makray Sr., started the molding company in 1948. An early hit was plastic tile for Tilemaster, a Chicago company whose product was found in kitchens and bathrooms throughout the Midwest.
Paul Jr. said Makray Manufacturing molded the marbleized tile on plunger machines.
"When he first started, the glory days were plastic tiles," he said.
In 1955, Makray Manufacturing moved to its current location in Norridge, between O'Hare International Airport and downtown Chicago. The company ran injection presses with clamping forces from 170-1,500 tons, and for a time made its own molds.
Paul Makray Sr. died in 1999.
Paul Jr. said that peak employment was 125 people. Now a skeleton crew led by general manager Brian Miller is getting the plant ready for the auction by Branford Group.
The online-only auction includes Husky and Van Dorn molding machines, a large quantity of Wittmann robots and other auxiliary equipment, gas-assist units, surge bins, silos and a machine shop.
James Gardner, senior vice president of auction services at Branford, said the online-only auction covers a wide range of equipment.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for buyers to purchase late-model, large-capacity molders and support equipment for an exceptional value," he said.
Paul Makray Jr., 61, began working part time at the plant when he was 17 years old. He said the family owners invested in technology, adding Husky injection molding machines and automation, and setting up work cells. Markets included point-of-purchase displays, telecommunications, automotive, marketing and industrial products, office supplies, medical accessories and consumer products.
Miller, the general manager, said Makray Manufacturing bought seven Husky presses, beginning around 2000.
Miller said he is working to help find other jobs for fellow employees, some of whom have worked their entire careers at Makray.