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December 8, 1998

2 Min Read
Life in the battery business

The Richardson Div. of Connor Corp. (Fort Wayne, IN) is one of the largest battery components suppliers in North America, with plants in Indianapolis and Philadelphia, MS and a distribution center in Pico Rivera, CA. Philadelphia plant manager George H. Smith boasts that the Mississippi facility "is the most modern plant in the battery components business."

One of four molding divisions of Connor Corp., the Richardson battery facility was built in 1977. During the next 14 years, four operations moved in. First, Richardson came from Des Plains, IL; then the Witco-Richardson Vent group relocated to Mississippi from Indianapolis.

In 1986 and 1991, equipment was relocated from Clark, NJ and City of Industry, CA. The expansion of the facility reflects the changes in the battery components business over the past 20 years through consolidations, mergers, and the addition of in-house battery components molding by some companies supplied by Connor.

Where It Stands Now

Today, the 150,000-sq-ft Philadelphia facility houses 50 injection molding presses ranging from 150 tons to an 850-ton press. Production is divided into two primary work cells--a small-parts cell with presses up to 300 tons and a large-part cell. The Philadelphia plant has between 300 and 400 molds in-house at all times. A mold maintenance and repair department keeps the molds in shape and does engineering changes. The building of new molds is done through the company's facility in Indiana.

The plant molds a variety of battery components such as containers, handles, terminal covers, vents, caps, and assemblies for batteries of all sizes and for a variety of applications such as military, aviation, golf carts, and, of course, automotive use. As a second-tier supplier to the automotive industry, Connor is the only battery components company to receive its QS 9000 certification.

Most of the components the company molds are molded in polypropylene, and this division uses about 12 million lb annually. It takes in custom molding work when press capacity permits.

A variety of secondary operations are done, including extensive automated hot stamping and spark testing of its battery components. The plant's engineering department also designs and builds fixtures and machinery for its assembly operations.

Community Relations

This type of work is ideal for this area, says Smith. It's clean and high-tech but with room for entry level labor to learn the injection molding business and advance careers.

The plant competes with the largest employer in town, a casino owned by the local Choctaw Indian tribe, for the available work force. But the employees at Connor are very stable. The plant employs about 180 people and the average hourly worker has been with the company for 11.3 years. Short courses are offered by plastics industry pioneer and molding consultant Jim Hemphill Sr. through the community college system in Mississippi. The Philadelphia plant also offers an apprenticeship program for maintenance personnel and machinists.

Contact information
Connor Corp., Richardson Div.
Philadelphia, MS
George Smith
Phone: (601) 656-7921

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