Wadsworth, Ohio — Compounding firm Michael Day Enterprises has proven to be a survivor in the plastics market.
Wadsworth-based MDE remains in business more than 10 years after filing for bankruptcy. The firm now operates two single-screw extrusion lines and one twin-screw line — as well as recycling equipment — at a 40,000-square-foot location.
Recently, MDE introduced new grades of high-temperature nylon and a new thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV) material. But product introductions were far from the mind of founder Michael Day in late 2009.
That's when the firm, which was generating 80 percent of its sales from the automotive market, filed for Chapter 11 and sold its assets to Radici Group of Italy for $5.7 million.
"The automotive market collapsed when the recession hit," Day said in a March 11 interview in Wadsworth. "And unfortunately, we had problems with our financing."
Day had founded the firm in 1981 after working for materials suppliers Celanese Corp. and A. Schulman Inc. After the filing, he didn't throw in the towel. He kept the business alive as a materials brokerage.
Day was joined by his son, Trevor, who interned at the firm and had just graduated from college. Michael Day now serves as the firm's president and CEO, with Trevor Day filling the roles of vice president and general manager.
"I had planned to work in the plastics industry, but maybe under different circumstances," Trevor Day said March 11. "But it's worked out."
In 2013, MDE reentered the compounding market. "I always believed in adding value and wanted to do more than being a broker," Michael Day said.
MDE now employs 15 at a location only about a mile away from its previous site. New business is leading the firm to add six more employees by the end of the year, Trevor Day said.
Most of MDE's compounds now are based on various types of nylon. The firm also makes compounds based on other engineering resins, including polycarbonate, polybutylene terephthalate and acetal.
About 25 percent of MDE's sales come from the auto sector, with another 25 percent coming from lawn and garden products. Furniture applications, like office chair bases, account for 20 percent of sales. Most of the firm's customers are U.S.-based injection molders, but it also sells into Canada and Mexico.
"There are still some good opportunities to be successful in areas such as automotive lightweighting," Michael Day said. "We're still focused on service and can do small lot sizes."
Trevor Day added that customers are looking to the firm for new material ideas, including ways to use recycled content. "We can still grow what we're doing," he said.
MDE also operates a quality control lab and offers blending, toll compounding and related services. The firm's annual compounding capacity is almost 12 million pounds.