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Today, around 65% of C & J Industries’ business is in medical molding, and it has embarked on a major expansion to accommodate ever-growing demand for its services.

Norbert Sparrow

February 27, 2024

3 Min Read
aerial shot of C & J Industries facility
Image courtesy of C & J Industries

Custom injection molder C & J Industries used to cater almost exclusively to the automotive market. Several years ago, sensing a change in market dynamics, leadership at C & J pivoted to the medical sector, which now accounts for around 65% of its business. The medical market continues to fuel growth at the 62-year-old company, which recently announced a 25,000-square-foot expansion in Meadville, PA.

A smart, timely decision

“The leadership of the company made a smart decision just before a downturn hit the automotive sector and those customers started getting more aggressive,” C & J’s John Carpenter told PlasticsToday. He was manning the company’s booth at the co-located Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) and Plastec West event earlier this month in Anaheim, CA. “We started to shift to medical molding and got certification to [the quality management system for medical manufacturing] ISO 13485,” said Carpenter. It was a smart move, he added, and “great timing.”

C&J-cleanroom-650.jpg

The proof is in the expansion currently in process. The additional square footage includes a 12,000-square-foot ISO Class 7 cleanroom and capacity to add 24 new injection molding presses to the 56 machines it currently has in operation, along with extra space for mold storage, warehousing, and office facilities. C & J is also ramping up its automation capabilities, primarily for a high-volume contact lens application.

Related:C & J Industries Grows Manufacturing Footprint

Automated annual production of 20 million contact lens cups

The high-speed automation system is designed to process approximately 20 million contact lens cups annually in a 24/5 operation. “The assembly is composed of a cup, stem, and two baskets,” explained Carpenter, who is C & J’s director of sales and estimation. “The stem goes into the lid and a spinner on the bottom neutralizes the hydrogen peroxide solution that cleans the contacts. All of those parts get assembled in a carrousel design — the process is fully automated, we just fill up the hoppers.”

The other primary products C & J molds for the medical market are syringe barrels, including the rod and plunger tips. That process is also fully automated, including spraying the interior of the syringe barrel with atomized silicone to increase lubricity, assembling the product, inspecting it via a machine vision system, and placing the finished device in a container.

Employee ownership is good for business

C &J has been a 100% employee-owned company since 2016, when longtime CEO Dennis Frampton announced his retirement and created an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The objective was two-fold: Ensuring that the company stayed in Meadville, where the family has deep roots, and that it could provide a solid future for its employees.

“Forming an ESOP was very important to the owners, who continue to be very involved in the community after their retirement. They didn’t want the company to leave the community,” said Carpenter.

Customers also benefit from the arrangement, Carpenter added. “Employees take a bit more pride in their work, and they are invested in the profitability of the company because it directly affects their compensation. They understand the importance of doing quality work,” said Carpenter.

C & J’s customers, clearly, are responding in kind, as work orders stream in and the company expands and adapts its capabilities to meet their demands.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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