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From three molding machines and three employees to 47 machines and 130 employees across two locations in 30 years is quite a success story in today's injection molding business. To listen to founder and president of Technical Precision Plastics (TPP), Jim Piermarini, tell the story of his company's growth, it sounded so simple. "Customer service," he said when asked by PlasticsToday to reveal the secret of his success.

Clare Goldsberry

June 27, 2014

5 Min Read
Thirty years of success attributed to good customer relations

From three molding machines and three employees to 47 machines and 130 employees across two locations in 30 years is quite a success story in today's injection molding business. To listen to founder and president of Technical Precision Plastics (TPP), Jim Piermarini, tell the story of his company's growth, it sounded so simple. "Customer service," he said when asked by PlasticsToday to reveal the secret of his success.

"Obviously, you have to have the technical skills, the quality systems, and good organization, but we have a policy in customer service that we will respond to our customers' inquiries by the end of the business day that they call," explained Piermarini. "We may not have all the answers yet, but we respond even if it's to tell them we're still working on it. We know that our customers need updates because they have schedules to meet, so responding to them in a timely manner is the key to building good customer relationships. If you don't respond you won't get additional business. Success with one job gets you new business."

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TPP's Jim Piermarini

It's a formula that has worked for the company because the very first customer Piermarini had when he opened TPP 30 years ago this year, remains a customer to the present and has grown to be TPP's largest customer. 

Implementing technology and staying up-to-date on the latest molding technologies and machine capabilities is also an important component of responding to customer requirements. Over the past decade, TPP has developed an expertise and focused niche in multi-shot (2- and 3-shot) molding. 

"About 10 years ago, we were working with a medical device company that had a new product, but couldn't figure out how to manufacture it," said Piermarini. "There were several different components that had to be assembled. Once the program received FDA approval, we worked with the customer to help reduce the cost and increase the productivity of the device. We developed a two-component design, and with a one million dollar investment in tooling and equipment, the customer received a payback in just one year."

That 2-shot project was TPP's first venture into multi-shot molding. Other opportunities came along and the company found itself going into 3-shot molding. Today, TPP has two 3-shot molding machines that are housed in a new designated 26,000 sq-ft multi-shot facility near the company's 60,000 sq-ft plant in Mebane, NC. The plant's 24/7 operations include 39 injection molding presses ranging from 55 to 350 tons, and a cleanroom molding and assembly area. Plans call for the addition of four more presses this year.

In 2009, TPP's largest customer wanted the company to put a facility in the Dominican Republic to be closer to the OEM's manufacturing plant there. Again, listening and responding to its customer's requirements paid off for TPP. "We went there to help support this one customer, and subsequently found several other accounts there as well," Piermarini said.

Today, TPP has eight molding presses in the Dominican Republic, with plans for adding two more this year.

Plans also call for the company to double the size of the Dominican facility to 20,000 sq-ft, allowing for expansion of its tool room. "Customers there have requested that capability locally," Piermarini said. "You want to do mold maintenance and repairs there - not ship molds back and forth from the DR to North Carolina."

With two-thirds of TPP's business in the medical disposables, consumables and device market, the requirements for cleanroom molding have increased over the past decade, which calls for cleanroom expansions at both locations. While the company builds some molds in-house, they predominantly get molds made on the outside, both domestically and overseas. Engineering changes, however, are done in-house.

Jim Corrado, business development manager for TPP, noted that the company has found itself in a good niche. "Not everyone gets into multi-shot molding, but we now have a tremendous number of requests for multi-shot molding, both for medical components and non-medical as well," Corrado said. "Our focus on certain industries and our expertise has made us a very financially strong company with the ability to develop new business based on our excellent performance with our customers."

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TPP's cleanroom molding facility 

Corrado added that TPP is more than just a molder. "We offer special assembly and packaging, much beyond just molding," Corrado said.  "That's what customers are looking for so that's what we provide. That's been critical to our growth: we hear what they're looking for and respond to that, then perform admirably."

TPP also serves customers in the consumer, industrial, aerospace and automotive industries, all of which have grown in the southeastern U.S. as more OEMs have made that region their manufacturing home.

That's one of the biggest changes that Piermarini has seen in his 35 years in North Carolina. "When I first came here from New England to work, there was very little competition with respect to molders," he commented. "The supply base was being handled in the Midwest and New England. There were a lot of OEMs but not a lot of molding competition 30 years ago. The growth of manufacturing in the southeast certainly helped us grow. A lot of opportunities came our way over the years. We've had to look at those opportunities and determine if they're here for the long haul."

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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