In today’s ultra-competitive environment, processors that aren’t moving forward run the risk of being left behind. Just ask Wescon Plastics, Wichita, Kan. The 43-year-old custom injection molder recently completed a $3.5-million plant expansion that not only upgraded the plant infrastructure, but also expanded the facility to enable further growth. An additional $2 million was invested in new molding machines, automation, and ERP. In late October, the expansion was formalized with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony that was attended by key customers, suppliers, and local government officials.
Wescon specializes in molding a wide range of materials, from HDPE and PP to engineering resins such as nylon and PEEK. Privately held by Nova Capital Management, Wescon molds tight-tolerance parts for industries such as oil and gas, transportation, electrical, batteries, lawn equipment, and HVAC. It runs 33 machines ranging from 30 to 610 tons and employs 130. Wescon runs three shifts 24:5 in its 90,000+ ft² plant, which was expanded by about 8500 ft². Its newly purchased injection machines include a 30- and 500-ton press from Engel, and a 250- and two 500-ton machines from Toyo (represented by Maruka USA).
Wescon’s molding activities are supported by a range of secondary operations such as hot stamping, pad printing, assembly, and both ultrasonic and hot-plate welding. It is also a user of Autodesk Moldflow analysis software for tool and process/part design. Wescon also has a tooling facility in-house with full design and prototype capabilities. Primarily, it builds and manages tooling projects for production. The firm also boasts long-term relationships with domestic and overseas moldmakers that are utilized depending on customer requirements.
“The equipment, facilities, and utilities expansions and enhancements will provide Wescon Plastics with the means to double our business,” states Jan Acker, who became Wescon’s CEO in September. Acker adds that the firm has a strategic plan to accomplish this objective. “As we move forward in our implementation of this plan over the next several years, we will be adding jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and management.”
Added Mat Mount, the molder’s CFO, “Our investment in the most advanced technology today is a commitment to our customers and the industry as a whole.”
According to Acker, the plant expansion will allow Wescon to better serve existing customers as well as to grow and enhance its capabilities. Up to 15 to 20 new machines can be integrated as growth dictates, and the power and water infrastructure was substantially upgraded.
Ernie Gerlach, who has worked in sales at Wescon for 22 years, puts it this way: “The $5 million investment allows us to compete with other top-of-the-line molders in a significantly improved facility with updated equipment.”
Officials from Enersys, Johnson Controls, and Wescon Controls were among the customers attending the open house. Noted Dan Bohn, Enersys sr. procurement manager, plastics, “It is a special privilege to be part of the open-house events and to see the results of 18 months of hard work, sweat equity, and dedication as you kept production running ‘business as usual’ even through all of the renovations, improvements, new presses, etc.”
In addition to 22-year veteran Gerlach, at the open house Wescon also recognized Eva Harrison, a machine attendant who has worked for the company for 36 years; and Shirley Garcia, who has worked in shipping for 38 years.