Manufacturing Marvels profiles Revere Plastics Systems, industry leader in highly engineered precision plastic injection molding systems, solutions and products.
Aired March 5, 2019 on Fox Business Network.
January 8, 2019
Plastic News By AUDREY LAFOREST
Injection molder Revere Plastics Systems LLC is following through on plans to diversify into the automotive market with a move to metro Detroit and a recent acquisition.
Revere, previously headquartered at its manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, moved into a roughly 2,000-square-foot leased office space in Novi, Mich., in April.
CEO Glen Fish cited proximity to the automotive industry and the ability to tap into the local talent pool as two big reasons for the move to Michigan. Approximately five executives work out of the Novi office.
In addition to the new headquarters, Revere announced Jan. 4 it had acquired certain operations and assets of Tier 1 automotive supplier Sur-Flo Plastics & Engineering Inc.’s Fraser, Mich., facility. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Revere has hired the 114,500-square-foot facility’s 111 employees. Going forward, Sur-Flo will not remain a company, Fish said during a Jan. 7 phone interview with Plastics News.
Livonia, Mich.-based Vari-Form Group, formerly known as Crowne Group, was the parent company of Sur-Flo.
Sur-Flo manufactured large-tonnage injection molded parts and assemblies primarily for the automotive industry, including fascia brackets, radiator and front grille support systems and molded-in-color interior components, among other parts. Customers included automakers such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
“[Sur-Flo] had a very good track record operationally. It was obviously very strategic to our diversification efforts that we’ve been working on,” Fish said. But Sur-Flo “had gone through some challenges,” he explained, including a reduction in volume as programs shifted and rolled off.
“As they went through their rough period again … they had not put any salesforce out in the market, so we’re pretty excited to go and help sell that capacity back because they had done probably 25 percent more volume through that facility in the past,” Fish said.
Revere predominantly supplies plastic components for the appliance industry, serving customers such as Whirlpool Corp. The company has been steadily trying to grow the automotive portion of the business, however, doing so mostly organically up to this point.
“But this obviously gives us a big jumpstart with customers that we didn’t previously do business with,” Fish said, adding that the acquisition represents Revere’s “first foray into being a Tier 1 supplier.”
Through the deal, Revere acquired 35 injection molding machines, ranging from 45 tons to a whopping 3,300 tons, as well as other equipment for secondary operations such as post-mold assembly and vibration welding.
The additional injection molding machines bring Revere’s companywide total to about 265, Fish said, with clamping forces starting at 25 tons.
“Our previous top end was 1,880 tons, and so we do very well in the large-tonnage capacity in general as a company,” he said of the addition of a 3,300-ton press. “Being able to increase that range is pretty strategic for ourselves as well as to open some existing capacity in those ranges where we’ve had to buy presses in the past.”
Revere, owned by French private equity firm Ardian, has four additional plants including Clyde, Ohio; Jeffersonville, Ind.; Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and Brampton, Ontario. The company also has a sales office in St. Joseph, Mich.
Annual sales for Revere, which employs around 1,150 people, are estimated at $250 million, Fish said. In PN’s most recent ranking of North American injection molders, the company comes in at No. 42.
“Our strategy is to continue to grow,” he said, adding that the company is “very, very inquisitive and active in the mergers and acquisition space.”
Outside of automotive and appliance, Fish said the company is evaluating at least a half dozen end markets for potential growth.
“Many of these end markets we can serve out of existing facilities, so we’re looking at how to penetrate an end market that has some cross-selling opportunities with other divisions,” he said.
NOVI, Mich., Jan 4, 2019 – Revere Plastics Systems, LLC, one of the nation’s premier suppliers of plastic injection molded parts and assemblies, has acquired certain operations and assets of the Fraser, Michigan facility of Sur-Flo Plastics & Engineering, Inc., a manufacturer of large tonnage plastic injection molded parts and assemblies. Revere has hired the facility’s employees and will continue to serve the facility’s existing customer base. This acquisition will grow Revere’s manufacturing footprint from four to five locations throughout North America. Revere’s other manufacturing facilities are located in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Ontario, Canada. The Company recently moved its corporate headquarters to Novi, Michigan to support sales growth and diversification across multiple industries.
“This acquisition supports Revere’s vision for growth while investing in the community, securing jobs and building on Revere and the Fraser operation’s initiatives. We are excited to integrate our complimentary capabilities and invest in the Fraser operation including adding additional engineering support,” said Glen Fish, CEO of Revere Plastics Systems. The transaction reinforces Revere as a leader in the plastic injection molding industry by adding to its capabilities while remaining dedicated to delivering highly engineered, complex parts. “Revere plans to continue executing its growth strategy through future acquisitions,” Fish commented.
The acquired Fraser operation has 35 injection molding presses ranging from 45 to 3,300 tons, as well as other equipment enabling a variety of value added secondary operations such as post mold assembly and vibration welding. The Fraser operation currently serves automotive OEM and Tier-1 customers nationwide, offering full service plastics manufacturing capabilities with functional, exterior and interior products including: fascia bracket systems, radiator and front grille support systems, ornamental exterior appliques, underbody splash and aero shields and MIC interior components.
About Revere Plastic Systems
Revere Plastics Systems, LLC, has over 50 years of experience in plastics and manufacturing. The company was founded to better serve customers world-wide while applying its engineering core to improve its customers’ competitive global position. Revere has manufacturing capabilities that include value added plastic injection molding, welding, assembly and testing. For over 25 years, Revere has remained among the nation’s top 100 plastic injection molders. The company employs more than 1,000 people in its manufacturing, technical and sales facilities. For more information about Revere, visit www.rpsystems.com.
RGS Energy has seen such strong demand for the Powerhouse solar shingle that it has inked a deal with a second injection molding partner to meet demand for the shingle system, which combines solar power collecting with a roof shingle.
RGS, which says it is seeing more than $570,000 worth of reservations for Powerhouse every day, has signed Clyde, Ohio-based Revere Plastic Systems LLC as a second molder.
Revere, with more than 230 presses, will join Creative Liquid Coatings Inc. in Kendallville, Ind., as part of the supply chain producing the in-roof solar shingles.
Developed by Midland, Mich.-based Dow Chemical Co. and licensed to Denver-based Real Goods Solar Inc., which does business as RGS Energy, the Powerhouse system has been hailed as a breakthrough because it serves as both a building product that can be used to replace asphalt roofs and a source of electricity. Installed flush to the roof, the product also is more visually appealing than panels on mounts tilted toward the sun.
RGS says the potential market for the updated Powerhouse system is 7 million homes a year in the United States. If it can capture 1 percent of that market through sales to roofers and homebuilders, sales could reach $1 billion.
RGS Energy Revere Plastic Systems LLC is the second injection molder to join in the partnership to produce Powerhouse shingles.
Revere agreed to dedicate resources to support up to $138 million in estimated Powerhouse sales after seeing the solar shingles and its “huge market potential,” according to CEO Glen Fish.
“We believe our financial strength and reputation will enhance the Powerhouse supply chain,” Fish said. “Beyond that, we believe as the Powerhouse line evolves, our design and engineering expertise will prove to be valuable at reducing cost and enhancing product features.”
In business for more than 50 years, Revere has 750 employees serving customers that include Whirlpool, GE, Briggs & Stratton, Tyco and Dura Automotive Systems. The company has production facilities in Clyde, Jeffersonville, Ind.; Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and Brampton, Ontario.
RGS now has four partners ramping up to produce the third generation of the solar shingle series, which will be called RGS Powerhouse 3.0. In addition to the two injection molders, General Polymers Thermoplastic Materials LLC of Clarkston, Mich., will provide the polypropylene for the composite base structure and Ningbo, China-based Risen Energy Co. Ltd. will supply the solar components and wire harness connectors.
Customer reservations currently exceed $36 million, according to RGS CEO Dennis Lacey.
“To meet growing demand, we required an additional plastic molding manufacturer,” Lacey said in the release. “As we work towards UL [Underwriters Laboratories] certification in September, our supply chain partners are taking the necessary steps to be able to quickly manufacture Powerhouse.”
RGS received UL approval for the base resin in April and is seeking to certify the entire system, which is made up of a base assembly, electrical connector and solar laminate.
Dow holds numerous patents for the Powerhouse technology, licensing them to RGS for $3 million plus quarterly royalties of 2.5 percent of the net sale price.
Lacey expects 2018 to be a transformative year for RGS with quarterly operating profit “to turn positive” in 2019. He described the market opportunity for Powerhouse as tremendous and pointed to the solar mandate that passed in May in California requiring all new homes, condos and apartment buildings to be equipped with solar power starting in 2020. California is the first to adopt a state-wide mandate.
RGS plans to sell the Powerhouse 3.0 system in California through direct sales to builders and roofing companies that have been trained to install the product and become Powerhouse dealers. The company appointed former Dow Solar field technician John Hardwick as vice president of construction services. He previously oversaw sales in that state and Texas as well as training for roofing and builder partners in those two states, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey and Hawaii.
RGS Energy also has been selected by Solarize Brookfield, a solar purchasing cooperative, to bring solar electricity to about 6,000 homes and businesses in Brookfield, Conn. The sign-up period continues through Sept. 25.
In October, Solarize North Haven, which is also in Connecticut, went with RGS Energy to deliver solar power to its 8,600 households. This state’s program, Solarize Connecticut, has helped residential solar installations grow from fewer than 900 in 2012 to more than 22,000 today.
June 28, 2018 08:31 ET | Source: RGS Energy
DENVER, June 28, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RGS Energy (NASDAQ:RGSE), the exclusive worldwide manufacturer of the POWERHOUSE™ solar shingle system, entered into a partnership agreement with Revere Plastic Systems, LLC, one of the nation’s top injection molders, to bolster its POWERHOUSE™ supply chain to meet increasing customer demand.
Revere Plastic Systems has agreed to dedicate resources required to support up to $138 million in estimated annual POWERHOUSE™ revenue.
“Having met with the RGS team, seeing the POWERHOUSE™ product firsthand, and understanding the huge market potential,” said Glen Fish, Revere Plastic Systems CEO, “we are delighted that RGS has asked us to dedicate resources, so that POWERHOUSE™ can be launched to achieve first-mover advantage in the solar shingle marketplace. We believe our financial strength and reputation will enhance the POWERHOUSE™ supply chain. Beyond that, we believe as the POWERHOUSE™ line evolves, our design and engineering expertise will prove to be valuable at reducing cost and enhancing product features.”
Dennis Lacey, RGS Energy’s CEO, commented: “We are quite pleased customer reservations now exceed $36 million, as we have averaged over $570,000 a day in new written reservations since our last announcement. To meet growing demand, we required an additional plastic molding manufacturer. As we work towards UL certification in September, our supply chain partners are taking the necessary steps to be able to quickly manufacture POWERHOUSE™ immediately following UL certification. We are very happy that a firm of Revere’s reputation and size, with over 230 injection molding presses, has chosen to join our team.”
About Revere Plastic Systems
Revere Plastics Systems, LLC, with over 50 years of experience in plastics and manufacturing, was founded to better serve the global customers while applying its engineering core to improve its customers’ global competitive position. Manufacturing capabilities include value-add plastic injection molding, assembly and testing. For over the past 25 years, Revere Plastics Systems has remained among the nation’s top 100 plastic injection molders. The company employs more than 1,000 people in its manufacturing, technical and sales facilities. For more information about Revere, visit www.revereplasticssystems.com.
About RGS Energy
RGS Energy (NASDAQ:RGSE) is America’s Original Solar Company providing solar, storage and energy services whose mission is clean energy savings. The company is the exclusive manufacturer of POWERHOUSE™, an innovative in-roof solar shingle using technology developed by The Dow Chemical Company. RGS Energy also sells, designs and installs traditional retrofit solar systems for residential homeowners, commercial businesses, non-profit organizations and government entities.
For more information, visit RGSEnergy.com and RGSPOWERHOUSE.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RGSEnergy and on Twitter at twitter.com/rgsenergy. Information on such websites and the websites referred to above in this press release is not incorporated by reference into this press release.
RGS Energy is the company’s registered trade name. RGS Energy files periodic and other reports with the SEC under its official name “Real Goods Solar, Inc.”
POWERHOUSE™ is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company, used under license.
Forward-Looking Statements and Cautionary Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involve risks and uncertainties, including statements regarding RGS Energy’s plans for the commercialization of the POWERHOUSE™ 3.0 Solar Shingle, and RGS Energy’s business and financial strategies. Forward-looking statements are neither historical facts nor assurances of future performance. Instead, they provide our current beliefs, expectations, assumptions, forecasts, and hypothetical constructs about future events, and include statements regarding our future results of operations and financial position, business strategy, budgets, projected costs, plans and objectives of management for future operations. The words “forecast,” “project,” “expect,” “plan,” “future,” “believe,” “may,” “hypothetical,” “will,” “estimated,” and similar expressions as they relate to RGS Energy are intended to identify such forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which such performance or results will be achieved, if at all. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. Therefore, RGS Energy cautions you against relying on any of these forward-looking statements.
Key risks and uncertainties that may cause a change in any forward-looking statement or that could cause our actual results and financial condition to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements include: RGS Energy’s ability to successfully and timely commercialize POWERHOUSE™ 3.0; the ability to obtain requisite UL certification of POWERHOUSE™ 3.0; RGS Energy’s ability to manage supply chain in order to have production levels and pricing of the POWERHOUSE™ 3.0 shingles to be competitive; demand for POWERHOUSE™; the ability of RGS Energy to successfully expand its operations and employees and realize profitable revenue growth from the sale and installation of POWERHOUSE™ 3.0, and to the extent, anticipated; RGS Energy’s ability to realize revenue from written reservations for initial POWERHOUSE™ deliveries; and RGS Energy’s ability to obtain future written reservations for POWERHOUSE™ deliveries.
You should read the section entitled “Risk Factors” in our 2017 Annual Report on Form 10-K, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which identify certain of these and additional risks and uncertainties. Any forward-looking statements or forward-looking hypothetical examples made by us in this press release speaks only as of the date of this press release. Factors or events that could cause our actual results to differ may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all of them. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement or forward-looking hypothetical example, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as may be required by law.
Investor Relations Contact
Managing Partner, CMA
– Plastics News, June 18, 2018
Revere Plastics Systems LLC focuses on doing more for its customers, going beyond molding and shipping parts to adding value that sets the company apart from its competition. According to Doug Drummond, vice president of sales and marketing, the core competency for Revere, which recently moved its headquarters to Novi, Mich., is injection molding and assembly. The company’s engineering and technical resources set it apart.
“We are not one of the standard molders that just molds a part and puts it in the box and ships it,” Drummond said. “We can do that, but about 85 percent of the company’s business features some sort of value-add.”
Additional core competencies include engineering, stack molding, tandem molding, insert molding, multi-shot molding, mold-to-mold transfer, in-mold decorating and vertical molding. Another way that Revere sets itself apart from the competition is with its top-flight technical resources and capabilities that add value for customers.
“We have more than 40 engineers on staff,” Drummond explained. “As we build up relationships with our customers, we try to dial in on that. The customers value all that we can bring to the table.” While some customers may just want a molded solution, others may be looking for a vendor that can provide a part that features multiple molded parts and several components that are then assembled and shipped. Complexity is no problem. In fact, this is where Revere excels.
Revere performs a lot of the final assembly and design work in-house, which is another value-add for its customers. During a tour through a Revere facility, a customer will witness an elevated level of the latest automation technology. Drummond also noted that the company has a dedicated sales engineering group.
“Their primary focus is to be externally tuned into what we can do for the customer,” he said. “It goes beyond maximizing efficiencies.” This includes a formal program in which the company details a plan that is geared for each customer. “Many customers are looking for a price reduction,” Drummond noted. “The easy way would be to reduce the PO price. That is easy to change, but in the end, taking cost out is the best way to reduce price.”
The sales engineering group works to develop innovative technologies that can be shown to customers. “It may not be applicable every time, but just showing customers that you are working on new things and have new ideas flowing is a positive,” Drummond pointed out.
Revere is very proficient at handling high-volume customers with complex products. Drummond noted that the key to be a valued supplier in these relationships is communication. “It goes beyond a sales person talking to a buyer,” he said. “Once your engineering group gets heavily involved with their engineering group, and your quality group gets heavily involved with their quality group, it forges the relationships and they gain trust in giving you that kind of business.”
“Revere is very proficient at handling high-volume customers with complex products. Drummond noted that the key to be a valued supplier in these relationships is communication.”
The company also is adept at being flexible. Drummond noted that many customers also have multiple locations and the company can move equipment and processes across locations to where it is needed by customers. One example is a project in which Revere is making fuel tanks for a very large manufacturer.
“We have done this work for them for a long time in our Poplar Bluff, Mo., facility. We had an opportunity to supply them tanks at another one of their facilities near our Jeffersonville, Ind., plant,” he said. “There was some apprehension by the customers, but we showed them that we had the ability to transfer that capability.” Companywide, Revere has more than 230 injection molding presses ranging from 25 tons to 1,880 tons.
“We have a lot of welding capabilities,” Drummond pointed out. The company also has been instrumental in working with customers to develop parts that previously had been made from metal. Revere currently is working on a project with an auto OEM to mold a brake component that has historically been made of metal.
“They needed to take weight out of the assembly,” he said. “We started working with the original metal part design. They got us involved very early in the process.”
Revere worked through a couple of versions of the part. “That led to some additional enhancements, which turned into prototype tooling,” Drummond noted. “It has been a terrific opportunity for us in the automotive industry. It is one of the opportunities that we really look for.”
By providing solutions for its customers, Revere is ensuring that 2018 will be a great year for the company and Drummond noted that “this year is looking pretty good for us.” Drummond concluded that bringing more value to its customers will be a central focus for Revere during the coming year.
Fremont, Ohio — Industrial companies in Fremont, in northwestern Ohio, are struggling to get young people interested in manufacturing, but Century Die Co. is working to make it happen.
Fremont Die, among other area companies, is again working on a program for Oct. 6, Manufacturing Day, that aims to bring all ninth-grade students from local high schools to Terra State Community College in Fremont.
“The employers get to introduce their company and the opportunities that are out there in manufacturing,” said Tim Myers, general manager at Century Die. “We are showing the students what’s available and what they can seek when they graduate.”
Century Die makes blow molds in Fremont. Myers is the co-chairman of the THINK Manufacturing committee with the Sandusky County Economic Development Corp.
This Manufacturing Day event will be the third time the group has hosted high school freshmen at Terra State Community College. Local companies break into groups and the students circulate through in groups of 10 or 15.
At the Sandusky County Manufacturers’ Career Showcase, the students hear about a variety of skills needed to work in manufacturing. Century Die employees outline machining, blueprint reading and other “hard” skills, by building some manifold blocks, hooking air up to it, and using an auger. The students try CAD on a computer screen. Myers said hands-on activities keep them involved.
But Myers said the students also hear about “soft skills” like teamwork and problem solving. Other skills the ninth-graders learn include robotics, continuous improvement, quality and lean manufacturing.
About 900 students usually attend, from five or six local schools in the Fremont area, he said. Schools bus the young people to Terra for the Career Showcase
“Some of the schools use this event as part of their career readiness programs that are in their curriculums,” Myers said. “We try to talk to every ninth-grade student.” Students get an idea of what they need to learn in high school to prepare for the jobs.
Other Sandusky County manufacturers that are involved in the Career Showcase include Revere Plastics Systems LLC, a custom injection molder in Clyde, Ohio, Whirlpool Corp.’s Clyde plant that makes washing machines, and corrugated packaging maker Green Bay Packaging.
Local companies also hit young people where they hang out: the movie theater. They sponsor a 30-second video before the film starts that highlights careers in manufacturing.
And for the last five years, Century Die has brought students in the seventh through 12th grade to its shop to become mold maker professional for a day. Myers said small groups — usually about one, two or three young people at a time — spend their day there.
Students get exposed to every job at Century Die: project management, engineering, purchasing, mold making, shipping and receiving, accounting and information technology. “So they get to see it’s not just a machine shop. There’s a lot of support jobs,” he said. Century Die proves that: Of the 76 total employees, 45 are machinists.
The types of jobs are diverse.
Myers said the blow mold maker hosted a total of 123 students last year. Century Die got a grant from the American Mold Builders Association for the mold maker professional for a day program.
“We utilize our retirees,” Myers said. “Our retirees will spend a day and take the students around. They get to see their old friends and see what’s going on. They get a big kick out of it.”
When the effort first started, Myers said, some employees pushed back, saying they didn’t have time.
“But as it’s gone along, they really enjoy doing it,” he said.
The work is paying off. Myers said the average age of Century Die employees has declined from 55 to 44.
The Sandusky County Chamber of Commerce named Century Die its Large Member of the Year for 2016, recognizing its efforts with young people. Myers, a chamber board member, said the organization is launching another program in November, a web portal where businesses post opportunities in job shadowing, internships and special projects.
Students, working with school guidance counselors, can browse the site and sign up.
High school guidance counselors are important players, so in 2013 and 2014, local manufacturers sponsored a bus tour to bring counselors and school superintendents to their operations.
“The counselors had no idea what was behind these walls. The opportunities out there. How high-tech. They were just in awe,” Myers said.
The guidance counselor bus tours paved the way for a greater awareness by school officials about local opportunities in manufacturing. “They see it and are pushing for it,” he said.
Myers said company leaders then decided to make contact with the students themselves.
Myers said too many people in manufacturing complain about the school system, about young people ignoring their field. But the actions in Sandusky County are opening the door.
A famous ad jingle claimed that “Good things grow in Ontario,” and Revere Plastics Systems LLC is hoping to grow its business at its manufacturing plant in the Southern Ontario city of Brampton.
Known primarily for making products for the appliance sector, the Clyde, Ohio-based injection molder is in the midst of a major push into other end markets as part of an ambitious strategy to double its revenue over the next four years. The diversification plan – which also includes investing in more large-tonnage injection molding, automation and other technology – has already been enacted at Revere Plastics’ three plants in the U.S., and the Brampton facility is next in line.
Revere Plastics should probably be better known than it is. With estimated sales of US$215 million, Revere Plastics has four plants — in Clyde; Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Jeffersonville, Ind.; and Brampton – and 275 presses, ranging from 25 to 1,880 tons. Adept in a wide variety of molding processes – including stack, two-shot, and overmolding, as well as a long list of secondary operations – the firm employs about 1,000 workers in total, and has customers in appliances, automotive, housewares, outdoor power equipment, medical, and electronics. “We’ve always been a major player in injection molding, particularly in appliances – our plant in Clyde is just down the street from a major Whirlpool plant, for example,” said Doug Drummond, Revere Plastics’ director of business development and marketing. “Whirlpool and General Electric are our biggest appliance customers, and we also have big customers in the outdoor power equipment sector.”
But as sometimes happens, the firm got into a rut over time. Founded in 2005 as the plastics division of Revere Industries LLC, an Indianapolis-based company that also had metal operations, Revere Plastics was taken over in 2009 by Santa Monica, Calif.-based investment firm Tennenbaum Capital Partners LLC. “Sales remained consistent under the new owner, but the company lacked unity and an overall focus, and the four plants operated almost independently of each other,” Drummond said. “We definitely weren’t maximizing our synergies.” And it didn’t help that the appliance market was changing rapidly. “For years now, offshore companies like Samsung and LG have been taking a bigger and bigger share of the North American market,” Drummond said.
In 2013, Tennenbaum Capital finally started to make changes, including fresh capital investment and the push to diversify the customer base. “Our plant in Jeffersonville, in particular, had too much open capacity and required serious attention, and that was the new management’s focus for the first three years; I was recruited from an automotive supplier company during this time to help oversee that process,” Drummond said. ”The Brampton plant was profitable and it had a few key customers that it kept happy, but it was basically in a holding pattern from a business development perspective until we turned our attention to it last year.”
In one of Revere Plastics’ main initiatives for 2017, the 60,000-square-foot Brampton plant has been targeted for aggressive business growth and an internal overhaul. A first step was to bring in a new general manager, Gus Shaar. “We also hired a new salesman with the specific goal of growing the sales in the Southern Ontario region,” Drummond said.
One of Shaar’s first jobs, in turn, was to implement a lean manufacturing program, beginning with a redesign of the Brampton plant’s shop floor. “We began by cleaning up the aisles; empty skids used to be all over the floor, and we’ve now stacked them neatly in designated areas,” Shaar said. “We also painted coloured lines and symbols on the floors to indicate aisles, work areas, and storage areas: blue lines indicate raw material storage, white is where the employees work, yellow designates safe areas where forklifts cannot cross, and green indicates areas for finished goods. It’s all part of implementing a strict lean manufacturing process that allows us to work faster and smarter, not harder, and we’ve improved our productivity by six per cent as a result.”
The look of the shop floor has changed in other ways, too. “We have purchased several new injection molding machines in the last 12 months, giving us a total of 42 presses in Brampton, with 600 as our largest tonnage,” Drummond said. “We have the ability to produce not just a plastic part, but a complete assembly, which is why over 80 per cent of our overall sales as a company has to do with adding value to a product, for example through welding – we can do six different types of welding – or decorating,” Drummond said. “This is the kind of new business we want, as opposed to simply molding a part. If we can grow the amount of complex, value-added products we manufacture, our sales in Brampton will increase while bringing more value to our customers at the same time.”
The company’s plan to double its revenue over the next four years is as carefully crafted as its shop floor makeover. “The three major industries that we are focussing on are automotive, appliance, and outdoor power equipment,” Drummond said. “We’ve done our research and know who to call on in Southern Ontario to build new relationships; and we’ve also joined industry associations such as the Automotive Parts Makers’ Association and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, which will help to raise our profile and put us in touch with an even wider range of potential new customers.”
The message that Revere Plastics is trying to put out, Drummond continued, is that the company’s technologies help separate it from its competitors. “We have more to offer than just a price for a part – we can supply a complete assembly,” he said. “We have expertise in design optimization, tooling, screw types, and automation. In addition, we have low overhead, meaning we can provide cost advantages for our customers. And we’re very good at problem solving.”
Another strength, Drummond added, is that the Brampton plant can tap into resources from Revere Plastics’ three U.S. facilities. “Revere Plastics has over 30 engineers across its plants in Clyde, Poplar Bluff, and Jeffersonville, and their expertise is available to us,” he said. “We can even move equipment from the other plants if necessary. We have complete buy-in from management: If we find the right customers and the right opportunities, the company will back us up all the way.”
The results of the company’s push into new markets are already beginning to show. “We implemented the growth strategy in Brampton one year ago, and we are already seeing a rise in RFQ packages from customers, and are getting more and more customers that want to tour our facility,” Drummond said. “These are the things that lead to more sales.”
Perhaps the only fly in the ointment is that, like many plastics processors that are in expansion mode, Revere Plastics’ Brampton plant is faced with challenges when it comes to hiring new workers. “We’ve automated wherever possible to make our workers’ jobs easier, and to free them to do more cognitive work,” Gus Shaar said. “But there are some jobs we can’t automate: we’re always on the lookout for new set-up workers, for example, and are in touch with local universities and technical colleges to find students that we can bring into our team and provide additional training for. We invest a lot of money in training”
In the end, there are worse problems to have than needing new workers to keep up with new business. “Revere Plastics has been around for awhile, but we’re not the same company we were a few years ago,” Drummond said. “We have an ambitious growth plan and the resources to achieve it.”
It’s one more good thing that’s growing in Ontario.
Surveys from the In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA) and Alexander Watson Associates (AWA) both show growth in the use of and market for in-mold labeling (IML) and in-mold decorating (IMD). Anecdotal evidence points to development in both the automotive and appliance sectors, with interest due to demands for lightweighting and lower material costs for plastics over metals. Consumer goods and packaging are attracted to IML because of durability and permanency, but those markets also appreciate the aesthetic appeal from specially developed inks and foils that add shelf appeal. While the global market is not vast – estimates from AWA point to a two percent share of the label market for IML – the possibilities are expanding on a daily basis.
Market opportunities for IMD and IML
Eric Berg, chief engineer for Revere Plastics Systems in Clyde, Ohio, estimates less than five percent of Revere Plastics’ sales for 2015 will come from IML and IMD activities; however, that portion still will account for more than $3.2 million in sales this year. Revere Plastics Systems is a custom injection molder with four locations and more than 750 employees. Both the Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Clyde locations have IML/IMD capabilities, but the company is prepared to expand to its other facilities as necessary if the demand for in-mold processes continues to grow.
“Most of our business is in the appliance industry,” explained Doug Drummond, director of new business development, “but, we also have customers in the outdoor power equipment and automotive industries. Automotive is one of the industries growing for us, and our customers have a real interest in our ability to decorate.”
There’s also opportunity in the outdoor power equipment market, although adhesive labels still are the more popular choice over IML. “It’s something we continue to talk to our power equipment customers about,” said Berg. “We’ve been experimenting with labels to show the customers the advantages.”
Decorative trends for IML and IMD
With the automotive industry taking an interest in the lower costs and lower weights of plastic components over metal, in-mold labeling with a metallic look is taking a step forward with more realistic shine and texture.
Mark Keeton, vice president of marketing for Standard Register, published a post on the Standard Register blog after AWA IMLCON™/IMDCON™ 2015, held in February in Miami, saying, “It is evident that metallic designs are in the greatest demand. Because real metals are so expensive, there is a clear opportunity to dramatically cut cost with alternative decoration technology. Until recently, achieving the look of real metal was challenging. Brush patterns, colors, reflectivity and texture were difficult to combine into a look that actually resembled metal. In the past, even the best attempts resulted in plastic that looked like, well plastic. It looked cheap and fooled no one. The look finally has been perfected. Achieving a convincing metallic look is now possible via IML films.”
Berg agreed, saying, “The biggest thing we’re seeing is brushed stainless and chrome looks in IML. I’m not sure if it’s still competitive with dipped chrome, but these types of looks weren’t available for IML previously. Even the inks in some of the IMLs have a metal look.”
Mark Spaulding, editor of Converting Quarterly magazine, also attended AWA IMLCON/IMDCON 2015 and reported on innovations for the industry. Among those was a metallic-look IML from substrate provider Taghleef Industries. “Its new nGLIMMER™ is the result of a three-year collaboration among material, machinery and converter partners across the globe,” wrote Spaulding. The silver mirror finish substrate is targeted to gourmet food, retail food, nutrtional supplements and paints and coatings, according to the website of NCI Packaging, one of the partners involved in the development.
IML and IMD also can bring elements of texture and touch without requiring post-mold operations. Spaulding explained, “MuCell® injection-mold 3D IML via Trexel, Inc. is said to enhance branding with a soft-touch effect. MuCell foaming technology puts small cells into thin-wall packaging using primarily nitrogen as the foaming agent. Weight reductions of about 11 percent are possible. End results: product differentiation, better shelf presence, boosted sensory effect, improved insulation and the possibility to use Braille on the container exterior.”
“Another big trend is 3D technology for IML,” said Keeton. “When it comes to durable goods, such as car parts, appliances or outdoor equipment, the need to decorate three-dimensional parts is a must. Until recently, options have been very limited for 3D decoration. Most IML labels could be used only on flat-to-slightly curved surfaces. Now, decorative films and parts are available that can achieve full 3D coverage, with sharp corners, depressions and deep wrap-around features.”
Drummond said Revere Plastics is keeping an eye on industry trends because its customers demand it. “We have seven employees dedicated to in-mold decorating and labeling now, but we have the ability to expand if we need to,” he explained. “Decorating is an area where we can add value, whether that’s through the IMD currently performed in our cleanroom or by supporting some of the capacitive touch applications in IML.”
Capitalizing on the opportunities
The Fall 2014 IMDA Short Shot Business Survey assessed answers from molders, brand owners, printers, industry suppliers and equipment manufacturers to provide insight into the growth of IMD and IML. At the time of the survey, 38 percent of respondents said their companies provide IML and IMD services because their customers demand it, an increase of six percent over the 2011 survey results. Packaging and consumer markets were assessed as growth areas, and IML/IMD is a market differentiator for 34 percent of the respondents.
Still, IML is a small portion of the overall labeling market. “In-mold labeling remains a specialized niche field with only a two percent share of the overall 2014 global label market, based on AWA Alexander Watson Associates estimates,” Spaulding said in a list of takeaways from his IMLCON/IMDCON attendance. “This was about 987 million square meters of material produced. Pressure-sensitive and glue-applied labels each accounted for 37 percent shares of the worldwide market last year.”
Spaulding went on to write, “While the total labeling market is up about four percent annually, the number of labels produced per SKU order is declining overall, according to Xeikon (a provider of digital presses). This can be either a risk or opportunity for IMLs that can be solved via digital printing production. Possibilities for converters include trial and mockup of IML-decorated objects; short-run IML jobs; large-size labels; and high-quality decoration that can replace direct-offset printing.”
Revere Plastics is prepared to take advantage of the opportunities. “It’s one of the most interesting things we do at Revere Plastics,” said Drummond, “and our customers are very interested in the IML and IMD sides of the business. We’re starting to get out there more to tell potential customers about our capabilities at automotive and appliance tradeshows, and I expect we will have more of these opportunities to work on in the next six to eight months.”