Sponsored By
Clare Goldsberry

March 30, 2016

3 Min Read
Custom molder MDS Manufacturing grows an astonishing 800% in six years

The United States was just coming out of the Great Recession when MDS Manufacturing LLC (St. Louis, MO) was founded in March 2010. Over the past six years, however, the company has grown an astounding 800%, expanding from three thermoplastic injection molding machines and three employees to 18 machines and 30 employees today. Contributing to that growth in large part has been the company’s liquid silicone rubber (LSR) capability, which was initiated in 2013. Today, it runs seven LSR machines, representing more than one-third of the company’s capacity.

Dave Skaggs, MDS Manufacturing

Engel North America, a member of the Engel Group (Schwertberg, Austria), a global manufacturer of injection molding machines and parts-handling automation, recently delivered the seventh LSR-equipped injection molding machine—an Engel victory 200/100 hy-tech U.S. machine with eco-drive—to MDS Manufacturing.

While their injection molding business was increasing, brothers Dave and Mike Skaggs felt they needed to find a niche to achieve a higher level of growth, and LSR was their choice. Missing from the molding community in the Midwest, and causing customers to look either to the east or west coast or overseas, it definitely turned out to be the right move.

It wasn’t easy in 2009 when the recession was still ongoing to try to “negotiate a start-up” molding company, Dave Skaggs told PlasticsToday. Diversification was the key to the company’s success. “There are all kinds of custom injection molding shops from big to small and companies offering blowmolding, and all of them can offer a variety of different things, but nobody here in the Midwest can offer LSR,” Skaggs commented. “It’s a way to separate us from our competition, and it’s resulted in new opportunities that enable us to compete even with China.”

One of MDS’s primary LSR markets is baby bottle nipples, and Skaggs noted that the company molds five million of them a month. “We also mold a neo-natal baby bottle nipple with a 0.005-inch molded-in hole, while other suppliers from overseas punch the hole in after molding.”

MDS Manufacturing also provides injection stretch blowmolding capabilities, which allows the company to make baby bottles. “We can do a complete bottle unit—nipple, cap, collar and bottle—and it’s all made in the USA. I believe there’s only one other company in the United States that does this.”

Steve Broadbent, ELAST/LSR Project Engineer for Engel Machinery Inc., said that the Skaggs’ success in LSR is the result of their willingness to work with suppliers that have the expertise and technology to provide the best equipment. “Dave and his team chose their LSR suppliers based on their level of expertise in LSR processing, not cost, and were willing to pay a higher price, when necessary, to work with these leaders,” said Broadbent.

Skaggs noted that he and his brother have been very happy with Engel as the company has grown. MDS runs Engel injection molding machines and knew the LSR machines offered excellent technology. In addition, MDS also runs some Nissei injection machines, and they have three Aoki stretch blowmolding machines. The brothers are currently planning a substantial expansion of their facilities for 2017, and are looking for an additional 60,000 to 90,000 square feet. The new facility will allow them to bring in a wider range of infant care products and additional products for the medical industry, and will allow the manufacturing of products being designed by MDS.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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