Uniloy Inc. wants to expand its blow molding footprint to Southeast Asia and Latin America, as the company continues to look for new opportunities under incoming CEO Gary Riley.
Riley, in an Oct. 21 interview at K 2022, said the Tecumseh, Mich.-based company is assessing locations in Southeast Asia and should have that completed in Q1 of 2023. The Latin American market also is on Uniloy's short-term radar, as is expanding its current business in India, Riley said.
The company is considering producing machines in Asia and Latin America, if it can determine that there is enough support on the ground in both locations, he said. "We are looking to determine where we want to grow our business," he said. "These are prime growth markets that we'd like to be part of."
Riley, who was on the Uniloy board after its separation from Milacron Holdings Corp. in 2019, joined the blow mold machinery producer in June as CEO. He also is principal owner of automotive processor Decatur Plastic Products Inc., where his two sons now run the business. Riley replaces former CEO Brian Marston, who left Uniloy the company to join investment firm Gamut Capital Management.
There are challenges with the business that Riley said he is eager to tackle. Under Milacron, the company had lost its way and became too reliant on layers of bureaucracy that slowed down its progress, he said. The Uniloy business had become stagnant and lost its competitive advantage, even as its employees were overworked at times, he said.
Expansion started at Uniloy in February, when the company purchased Century Die Co. LLC of Fremont, Ohio, and renamed it Uniloy Fremont. The site now produces blow molds for Uniloy customers, while the company is offering rebuild and repair mold facilities in Tecumseh, he said.
Riley is now working on changing the Uniloy culture and enhance customer service. His mantra is that employees must be appreciated for their work and feel as if they are part of the overall team. He has had his leaders read The One Minute Manager, an older volume that expresses the idea that managers should praise their employees, even if they only have a minute to do so out of their workday.
"It's the small things," he said. "You have pay attention to people. It only takes a minute to praise someone, but they remember that for a lifetime"
Riley showed a picture on his phone of a toolmaker standing beside a large mold of a plastic houseboat component that was difficult to produce. They worker was grinning, happy that he accomplished something that some might have thought too difficult.
Uniloy was owned by Milacron for 21 years before its separation three years ago. The company was sold to private equity firms Osgood Capital and Cyprium Investment Partners. The company has primary operations outside the United States in Mexico, Italy and India. But Riley, with an international business background, has his eye on other markets where blow molding is emerging as a viable growth opportunity.
Riley, 67, has served as CEO of private-equity-owned international businesses operating in Europe, China, Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea and has lived in those countries. He said that Southeast Asia poses a particular opportunity for growth in packaging, as many companies are switching from bags for beverages to bottles.
Riley has roots in Southeast Asia. He also is an owner of Ningbo Global Sourcing Co. Ltd, a company that helps operate manufacturing companies in China and export them to the West.
However, before making the leap to manufacturing in Asia, the 300-employee company must first assess whether there is enough local support on the ground to service machines and provide parts. "We can't put someone on an airplane from Tecumseh or Italy and fly them to Asia," he said. "We must be in those markets."
The company is also looking at other applications for its equipment. With Riley's background in automotive there are opportunities in blow molding for automotive parts, even though times have been tough lately. Such applications as windshield washer containers and other fluid containers are areas that could be opportunities, as is outdoor yard equipment, he said.
The K show was important to Riley's strategy to make Uniloy front and center again in customers' minds. "We see better days ahead," he said. "We lost our way for a few years but we're proud to be back."