A Michigan mold maker has laid off nearly a quarter of its workforce as the company shifts its focus from tool and die operations to solely automation solutions.
Executives at Grand Rapids-based HS Inc. announced the transition that will boost the company's existing automation technology solutions and move automation into its current tool and die facility.
HS Inc. President Dale Hermiller told the Grand Rapids Business Journal that the company laid off 58 employees last month as part of the transition. The company now employs 161, and Hermiller anticipates minimal additional layoffs as the transition continues.
"It is our goal to retain as much of our workforce as possible," Hermiller said.
HS Inc.'s transition involves moving automation production to its current tool and die facility. The company's automation work, which involves developing automation solutions for other companies, currently takes place at its facility at a nearby site. The company also is developing a strategy for another existing facility in the community.
The move will allow the company to pursue larger, more complex automation opportunities by increasing floor space, improving workflow and enhancing in-house machining capabilities. The company has started a strategy to wind down existing tool and die projects.
"It is an incredibly difficult decision to transition away from the part of the business on which the company was founded. However, we are committed to growing and investing in our automation solutions that help companies improve quality and productivity," Hermiller said in a news release.
Hermiller added that there is "never a good time to make this type of drastic change, but the current state of the tooling industry provides us a window where we can complete our remaining jobs in a way that minimizes risk to our customers."
Founded in 1969, HS Inc. began as an injection mold design and production manufacturer. The company expanded its capabilities to include automated assembly solutions in 2000, and currently offers solutions such as automated and manual assembly, material handling, plastic processing, and robot and vision integration.
The full transition away from tool and die is expected to be completed by the end of this year.