With the conversation about jobs and manufacturing in the U.S. taking center stage this election season, acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank visited Wilco Molding Inc. (Maryland Heights, MO) on July 24. Acting Secretary Blank came to discuss what the government can do to support U.S. entrepreneurs and manufacturers as they seek to grow their businesses and increase production.
Gary Guetterman, director of operations and business development for Wilco, said that about 80 people were in attendance, including 20 employees from Wilco and 60-70 business and political people from around the St. Louis area, as well as local news and Acting Secretary Blank's entourage.
Blank's address to the audience noted that the government is making efforts to support U.S. manufacturing businesses both large and small, and talked about some of the tax incentives and tax breaks available to companies that make products in the U.S. and support job growth. The federal government also wants to help small and mid-sized manufacturers export their products in an effort to level the trade playing field.
After Acting Secretary Blank's address, there was a panel discussion, including Wilco's owner and CEO Kim Williams, and Tom Dustman, Director of International Sales for Sunnen Products Co., a St. Louis based company that makes precision honing, bore sizing and engine rebuilding equipment for sale in the U.S. and for export. Serving as the panel moderator was Denny Coleman, president and CEO of the St. Louis County Economic Development Council.
Wilco, which consists of three division including Wilco Die-Tool Machine and Wilco Automation in addition to Wilco Molding, is a third generation, family-owned business. Commenting on the opportunity to host this event, Williams said, "I think the event went really well, and we were proud to host this. We're just a small manufacturer, however we do ship some parts to China and we've also gotten work from China as our customers have brought this back to the U.S.
"I think they picked us to host this because we're bringing jobs back," Williams added.
Wilco is investing in new equipment as it seeks to grow the company. "We've had customers bring molds back, and we're running them here," Williams explained. "We try to build the molds here, and sometimes we can be very competitive and get the job. Other times the price is too high so we'll go to China as a last resort. Typically however, when the mold comes into our plant it needs about 10-15% re-work to get it running well."
Wilco Molding creates components for a variety of markets and is seeing more medical molding. The company has Class 8 clean room molding capabilities with five of the company's 17 presses in the controlled environment. The company employs 26 people in its three divisions, and its presses, which are all Toyo, range from 55-500 tons.