Falcon Plastics Inc. is growing again, this time with plans for a 20,000-square-foot expansion at its plant in Lexington, Tenn., in response to its increasing sales and significant growth forecasts by customers.
The injection and blow molder recently broke ground on the $750,000 addition, which it expects to complete this summer. The warehouse expansion will bring the plant's total space to 70,000 square feet and make room on the production floor for Falcon to install additional equipment — initially at least one 720-ton Toshiba injection press, and possibly two, said Sales Director Heather Quail.
The company is also considering expanding into blow molding at the site, with the possible addition of a machine from Magic North America, a unit of Magic MP SpA of Monza, Italy.
These plans are all part of what the company is calling the first phase of expansion in Lexington. Falcon is currently looking to hire an undetermined number of workers now and will need more people and machines in phases two and three, which will take place in 2022 and 2023 as demand requires, Quail said in an April 30 phone interview.
The Brookings, S.D.-based company weathered the COVID-19 pandemic well, thanks to its varied customer base, she said. The Lexington plant is involved mainly in the construction, industrial and automotive markets.
"The markets that were stronger kind of carried us through COVID. We did see markets like automotive drop off for months. We would have been in a lot of trouble if didn't have a diverse market mix down there in Lexington," she added.
And now automotive is making a strong comeback, helping the Lexington plant exceed its sales projections so far. The company is expecting the plant to do $17 million in sales in 2021.
The problems now are finding qualified workers and dealing with material shortages, Quail said. "Material prices have increased drastically," she said, also citing multiple force majeures and extended lead times. "In addition, we're seeing an increase in customer demand. We've actually been able to work through a majority of the material shortages" by expediting shipments and advance planning.
In addition to the Lexington facility, Falcon has plants in Brookings and Madison, S.D. It expanded the Madison facility a few years ago. Its 2019 acquisition of custom injection molder Poly-Cast Inc. gave Falcon its fourth plant, in Tigard, Ore., and a 40 percent interest in a facility in Suzhou, China. Its markets include electronic, medical, and consumer and sporting goods, in addition to automotive/industrial and construction.
Overall, Falcon is expecting North American sales of about $50 million this year, which includes $40.8 million from injection molding and $5.1 million from blow molding. The company, which employs about 300, also does in-house tooling and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam processing.
Falcon was founded in 1975 by Don Bender. He and his wife, Carol, both died early in 2020. The company is now a third-generation family-owned business run by Chairman Guy Bender, CEO Jay Bender, President Jenn (Bender) Barlund and Executive Vice President Kyle Bender.