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For more than 50 years, Parkway Products held a unique niche in high-end custom molding, specializing in defense and aerospace components from a single facility in Cincinnati, OH. Today, things are very different.

Clare Goldsberry

May 26, 2009

7 Min Read
Plant Tour: Shaping a global enterprise

For more than 50 years, Parkway Products held a unique niche in high-end custom molding, specializing in defense and aerospace components from a single facility in Cincinnati, OH. Today, things are very different.

Back in 1946, Parkway Products Inc. (PPI) began life in Cincinnati as a custom fabricator serving a broad base of industries, but focusing on the growing aerospace industry in its backyard. Forty years later, Parkway opened a dedicated aerospace and defense facility in Erlanger, KY, which led to a series of acquisitions and expansions through the 1990s and early 2000s. When the dust settled, Parkway had grown from a regionally based, two-facility aerospace molder into a seven-plant enterprise, serving customers across North America in a number of diverse industries.


EMP’s Loveland, CO facility specializes in medical products with both injection molding operations and Thixomolding.


The Seneca, SC facility has four silos that feed its high-volume custom molding operations.


The Atlanta, GA, facility’s primary process is injection molding, but focuses on high-performance polymers such as Torlon and Ultem.


EMP’s Saltillo, Mexico facility features custom thermoplastic and thermoset molding, plus assembly.


PPI’S EMP Group molds components for a range of industries including transportation, medical, industrial, building systems, and electronics in a wide variety of materials, from magnesium, Torlon, and Ultem to PS and PP.


Parkway EMP recently expanded Saltillo, Mexico production capabilities to include both thermoset injection and compression molding.


EMP’s Atlanta facility’s quality operations include a color analyzer to ensure perfectly matched colors.


Plant #2 of EMP’s Saltillo, Mexico operations has full assembly operations.


Thixomolding at the Loveland plant was added in 1998.


EMP Atlanta houses curing ovens for postprocessing of high-end materials.

In 2006, a buyout of the founding family led by Parkway’s current executive management team, including current CEO Joe Klunk, put Parkway Products on a new track. Postbuyout, the company operates two independent business units. Parkway Products is still active within the aerospace community, through its Aerospace, Defense & Specialty Products (ADS) business, with four North American facilities producing aircraft engine components, composite aerostructures, bonded assemblies, and defense and weapons systems components.

The development of the second operating business within Parkway Products has resulted in the largest expansion since the management buyout. Parkway’s Enterprise Molded Products (EMP) business consists of four plants in the United States and Mexico, serving the transportation, medical, electronics, building systems, and industrial markets. “The consolidation of Parkway’s commercial business outside of aerospace has been key to Parkway’s growth over the past four years,” says Al Ridilla, VP of Parkway’s EMP group. “Parkway has been actively molding for a number of industries since its inception, but has never had a unified approach to properly serving those markets.”

Focusing in

Parkway EMP consists of four operating facilities focusing on four distinct production technologies. The Loveland, CO facility was PPI’s first major acquisition in 1996. In 1998 Parkway transformed Loveland from a stand-alone thermoplastic injection molding plant into a dual-technology facility through the licensing of the Thixomolding technology (from Thixomat Inc.; www.thixomat.com), and shifted its focus to medical products. The Loveland plant currently operates three 220-ton Thixomolding machines [mfr?]. Thixomolding is a process similar to plastic injection molding but uses a semimolten magnesium alloy. The plant’s injection molding area specializes in engineering and high-performance thermoplastic materials, with 13 presses ranging from 50-400 tons, in its 32,000-ft2 facility.

Acquired in 1997, Parkway’s Seneca, SC facility is home to the EMP group’s high-volume injection molding operations. With more than 30 injection presses ranging from 40-720 tons, four material storage silos, and several in-house secondary processes, PPI Seneca can support programs requiring millions of parts per year. Seneca also houses an insert molding operation, with rotary presses ranging from 75-150 tons.

In 2001 and 2002, Parkway expanded its operations internationally by establishing two facilities in Saltillo, Mexico, 45 miles southwest of Monterrey. The EMP facility there features custom thermoplastic and thermoset molding, coupled with assembly within a single 110,000-ft2 facility. Saltillo EMP houses thermoplastic injection presses ranging from 60-500 tons, thermoset injection presses from 190-230 tons, and thermoset compression presses from 75-500 tons. “The addition of thermoset injection molding to the EMP group is a logical extension of our existing strategy,” says Ridilla.

The plant is capable of processing a broad range of engineering thermoplastics, as well as most major polyester or phenolic thermoset materials. PPI Saltillo EMP is ISO 9001:2000 and UL certified, and produces components for major transportation, medical, and power distribution OEMs.

In 2004, the company acquired its 32,000-ft2 Atlanta, GA facility. PPI Atlanta’s primary process is injection molding, but focuses strictly on processing high-performance polymers, which includes using a bank of high-temperature ovens for postmold curing of Torlon PAI. The Atlanta facility houses injection presses ranging from 17-300 tons, in-house CNC, and double-disc grinding, and specializes in the molding of Torlon PAI, PEEK, Ultem PEI, PPA, and PPS.

 “One of the main objectives in organizing the EMP business was to commit resources to properly serve a series of what we have identified as strategic industries,” states Ridilla, “which includes the transportation, medical, industrial, building systems and electronics industries.” Parkway EMP has dedicated an internal market manager to each industry in order to proactively service the OEMs with products and services that meet industry-specific objectives.

Industry-specific quality requirements are also a top priority for Parkway EMP. All of its facilities hold ISO 9001 quality certifications. Individual facilities within the group hold a range of market-specific quality requirements, including UL’s molding and fabrication certification and automotive TS16949. Additionally, Parkway is in the process of obtaining its medical ISO 13485 certification.

Diversity of materials and processes

The strength of Parkway EMP comes from both its geographic coverage and its broad range of processing capabilities. “Supplier consolidation has been an objective in a number of companies for the last several years,” says Dave Clettenberg, PPI’s director of marketing. “Parkway EMP offers an opportunity to many customers, enabling them to source a range of molded components with one vendor.”

Parkway’s injection molding operations process both standard thermoplastics (such as polystyrene and polypropylene) and ultrahigh-performance polymers. “Parkway EMP takes pride in our ability to process a broad range of resins,” states Clettenberg. “We are not limited by customer material specifications.”

Vital Stats

Parkway Products Enterprise Molded Products, Atlanta, GA; Seneca, SC; Loveland, CO; Saltillo, Mexico

Facility sizes: 32,000-110,000 ft2

Materials processed: Thermoplastics ranging from PS and PP to PEEK, Ultem PEI, Torlon PAI, PPA, and PPS; polyester, phenolic, and epoxy thermosets; magnesium alloy

No. of employees: 200

Molding technology: Thermoplastic injection; thermoset injection, compression, and transfer; Thixmolding

Molding machines: 50-720 tons Internal moldmaking: No; in-house mold design assistance, maintenance, and repair

Quality: ISO 9001:2000, TS16949, ISO 14001, ISO 13485 (in process), UL molded components

Parkway has been a thermoset molder since the early 1950s, and the company’s EMP thermoset molding operation houses injection, compression, and transfer molding under one roof. It is constantly looking to expand, and recently migrated that technology to its plant in Saltillo, Mexico. “Our thermoset operation in Mexico was built from the ground up in late 2006, and by the end of this year should house more than 30 presses,” states Ridilla. “PPI Saltillo is believed to be one of Mexico’s largest facilities that houses both custom thermoplastic and thermoset molding capabilities.”

Parkway EMP also houses a full-scale assembly operation in its Saltillo facility, capable of mechanical assembly, electronic assembly, and finished component testing. A host of secondary operations including sonic welding, pad printing, automated packaging, and hot stamping are also done in-house.

Further broadening its range of capabilities is the magnesium injection molding operation in Loveland. “We believe the Thixomolding process complements plastic injection molding very well, as the processing is similar to plastics, but provides some of the strength and shielding properties of metal,” says Clettenberg.

Parkway EMP is a diverse, flexible molder, with the ability to provide world class molding solutions to OEMs in a number of different industries. “We do not feel constrained by material, process or secondary operations,” says Ridilla. We are always willing to investigate new processes or materials if the opportunity should arise.” [email protected]

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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