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Tech Molded Plastics invests, expands, impresses senator

On Feb. 22, newly elected U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) visited Tech Molded Plastics Inc., a custom molder in Meadville, PA, to tour the company’s high-tech operation and discuss economic and political conditions that triggered the recession. Scott Hanaway, president and CEO of Tech Molded Plastics, had a lot to show the senator.

Clare Goldsberry

February 23, 2011

4 Min Read
Tech Molded Plastics invests, expands, impresses senator

The company recently acquired an adjoining facility formerly owned by Trojan Inc., DIC Tool Division, which nearly doubled the company’s total footprint to more than 92,000 ft2. In 2010, Tech’s growth included more than a million dollars spent in self-funded improvements in plastics processing technology, computerized monitoring of plastics processes, six new presses ranging from 110-120 tons, and training programs for employees.

The acquisition of the co-located production facility includes over $1.5 million of additional improvements that is being funded locally. Tech plans to prepare the expanded production space for specialized molding capabilities in a clean, climate-controlled environment for precision medical, automotive, and electronics products, including over-molding of close-tolerance, thin-wall connectors produced with high-performance engineering grade resins. A corridor will connect the two buildings and serve as the primary gateway for efficient flow of finished goods between the two facilities.

Tech Molded Plastics currently operates 29 injection molding presses ranging from 40-309 tons. Two new high-precision 80-ton molding presses have been ordered and will be installed during this first quarter, with another four to six molding machines added in the near future as the building is modified to support the equipment. The company employs over 100 people, including 22 in the company’s mold manufacturing department. Tech added 28 full-time people in 2010, along with support from 35 temporary workers.

“With the facility in place for 2011, Tech plans to add an additional 27 employees in the next few months and convert more temporary workers to full time,” says Mark Hanaway, the company’s VP.

Scott Hanaway says that there are several reasons the company was able to be strong and successful, even during a downturn in the economy: “Low debt, strong financials, and a commitment to reinvestment has been a founding principle of the company since its inception in 1973.” William and Eva Hanaway founded Tech Molded Plastics based on precision in mold building, quality custom molded plastics, and skilled people.

“We have been fortunate to practice the basic concept of saving pennies during good times to support operations during extended periods of bad time,” he explains. “We do no justice to our customers, our employees, and ourselves if we extend debt, risk, and responsibility beyond our means.”

Mark Hanaway explains that much of the value-add the company provides to its customers occurs at the front-end of the operations, in the mold design, engineering and manufacturing. “As a full-service development company, we specialize in mold engineering and building technologies to improve the overall life and quality of the product long-term,” he says.

“Our mold manufacturing department is integrated with our preventative maintenance program we offer customers, including climate-controlled vaults for mold storage. By managing the PM cycles, cleaning, and proper storage, we improve the up-time of molds.”
   
Senator Toomey was awed by what he saw at Tech Molded Plastics, particularly at the cleanliness of the facility, and the high-tech machinery and equipment. “It’s hard not to be impressed,” Toomey said after the tour. “It’s an incredibly sophisticated operation.”
Mark Hanaway notes that the scope of the discussion with the senator were the challenges of increased raw material costs, the competitive issues of small business against a global economy, and oppressive business taxes when compared to those of other countries. “Being able to reinvest in our people, our processes, and our business—and doing so with funds we retain from profits—is really key to our success,” he adds.
   
Scott Hanaway expressed the fact that Tech, like many other manufacturing companies, has been actively recruited to relocate to other business-friendly states and low-cost offshore countries. “We are in a very challenging global economy with real people and real families who depend on stable sources of employment,” Scott Hanaway told Toomey. “This is our home and we are cautiously moving forward with strategic growth plans to reinvest in our community, our people, and advanced technology in plastics processing. But, our elected officials need to remain focused on increasing America’s competitiveness in the world to create jobs at home.”

Mark Hanaway says that it’s often easier to hunker down during hard times, especially when you see companies all around you laying people off or even going out of business. “You begin to wonder to what degree do you pull in and doing nothing, thinking that every decision and every investment you make may be your last,” he says. “But, you either grow your business or you fail. Investing always requires us to ask ‘is this added expense going to give us a return?’ The key is to retain talent and invest in technology, and the best time to do this is often during downturns.” —Clare Goldsberry

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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