Getting business in the door: A free mold?

January 27, 2010

In a tight economy, being creative can be the key to capturing new business, so molder/moldmaker Hollywood Plastics Engineering Co. (San Fernando, CA) has been exercising its creative muscles, offering a program that provides free tooling on qualifying custom injection molded parts orders. The offer is valid on all special orders that meet specific process requirements with respect to complexity, quantity, and materials.

The company doesn’t skimp on the tooling it builds, and provides the type of molds that the job demands, including multi-unit die bases or stand-alone molds, according to the situation.

Hollywood Plastics’ “free tooling” offer is good on many different types of molds, including multi-unit dies, hard tooling, or whatever the molding job calls for.

Opening CD and DVD packaging can often be a tough job, but with the EZ-CD openers, a proprietary product from Hollywood Plastics, it's a breeze.

“We began more than 30 years ago as a tool and mold engineering firm, so quality tooling is at the core of our business,” says Mike Hamernik, president of Hollywood Plastics. “When a customer has a large-run order, we want to make sure the mold design is going to last and provide exceptional production quality. By offering the tooling at no cost for large molding orders, we are saying to our customers that not only do we offer quality but also we provide value.”

Hamernik says that he looks at each program that comes to Hollywood Plastics on an individual basis. “We have to look at what they have, the number of parts required, and the material needed. We ran parts for a medical firm that had runs into the millions per year,” he adds, noting that his program is not quite like an amortization program. “Amortizing is something we do outside this program, where we’ll take 50% down on a mold and amortize the balance over so many molded parts.”

On long-term, large runs, Hamernik will figure the price of the tooling and the molded parts, and then provide a quote for the piece parts. “Many times we’ll get a customer that has a new product, and especially in this economic climate, they can’t handle the initial bite for the mold,” Hamernik explains. “But we want the project, so we work with them. The cost exposure we incur as a result of our program makes this a credibility issue as well. We offer special tooling programs for some companies we’ve dealt with for a long time to help them through their molding requirements, both large and small. If a company doesn’t live up to the molded parts commitment and wants out, they have to pay for the mold as if it were a short-run molding job with tooling—as if it were a conventionally purchased mold and molding job.”

“The Free Tooling Program is the best-case scenario for a client with long-term production needs,” Hamernik says. “Depending on how the client’s production needs fit our program requirements, the client’s initial expenditure for tooling can be drastically reduced, if not altogether waived. The best illustration of the true benefits of the free tooling program would be to look at a common situation involving a client with long-term molding/production needs having to pay an exorbitant tooling cost before their production requirements are implemented—an all too familiar situation.

“The program could eliminate, or drastically reduce, this high mold cost for the client while charging the same production cost per part that it would have paid via conventional tooling/production means (and the associated costs),” he continues. “The longer the production requirement, the better chance that the tooling cost would either be waived, or at the very least be significantly reduced. Shorter production runs could take advantage of tooling amortization, another way to soften the blow of any new production run. The type of clients I described need the production runs one way or another, so why not take advantage of our tooling program?”

Hamernik says that the program also helps him eliminate unpredictability, and allows him to make better raw material purchases. “I can pre-buy material for several years and it cuts down on the unknowns of pricing variations,” he says. “If the molding turns out not to be so long term and we can use the material for another job, we’ll use it. If it’s a specialty compounded material or a custom color, then they have to pay for the material. But that’s the risk they take.”

Hollywood has injection machines that range from 100-400 tons, and also performs numerous secondary operations, CNC machining of plastic parts as a finishing procedure, various types of decorating including hot stamping and pad printing, as well as product packaging and fulfillment. The company serves industries ranging from biomedical to automotive.

Additionally, Hollywood Plastics has its own product lines, including its media package openers. “We helped a customer develop this idea back in the early 1990s when CD packaging was developed and it was so tough for the consumer to open,” says Hamernik. “We then purchased this line from him, and continue to make the EZ-CD openers as well as other openers conducive to all the new forms of tangible media available today.”

The real key to Hollywood Plastics’ success with its free tooling offer is the value it provides to customers with new, revised, or startup products. “If they need to get going, but can’t make the commitment to the upfront cost of tooling, then we’ll work with them to provide the tooling,” states Hamernik. “That’s where our real value comes in.” Clare Goldsberry

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