Plastic Power

MGS Manufacturing Corp., a Germantown-based manufacturer of molded plastic components, designs and manufactures products and containers found in many American homes, businesses and cars.

The company regularly produces plastic parts and products for brands such as Rubbermaid, Illinois Tool Works, Sanford Corp., Baby Bjorn and many more. Because MGS exclusively serves original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), its name does not appear on the parts and products it makes.

“We do not make anything that we sell directly to the end user,” said John Berg, the company’s marketing director. “We really only do specialty equipment for specialty manufacturers.”

MGS’ engineers routinely help the company’s customers design their parts and products. The company’s machinists also create custom tools and dies that are used for the manufacture of those pieces, Berg said.

“Because of our broad range of capabilities, some customers only come to us for molds and tools,” he said. “In other cases, we do not build the tools, but we will take over production for them. And for some, we develop the tooling and run production. We also design and build specialty equipment to facilitate the run.”

MGS’ design and build capabilities, combined with its engineering and materials know-how, have made it a destination of choice for many large customers.

For example, the majority of Rubbermaid’s products are manufactured in Asia. However, its high-end line of storage containers are manufactured in Germantown by MGS because of the company’s ability to combine multiple materials, Berg said.

“We can combine those materials to create a very tight seal that also gives them their exclusive nesting feature,” he said.

The company also produces components for many manufacturers, including plastic pieces for nail guns made by Illinois Tool Works. In addition to making components for the nail guns, MGS also makes the plastic carrying cases for the nail guns, Berg said.

The company has worked extensively with Hewlett-Packard on the design and creation of its plastic ink cartridges for printer ink, Berg said.

“We did a great deal of work in the initial stage R&D through the production molding for HP’s ink cartridges,” he said. “We don’t fill them. They leave here empty shells.”

MGS routinely does design work for Sanford Corp., a pen manufacturer that owns the Sharpie, uni-ball, and Parker brands. While it occasionally does some limited production for Sanford, MGS usually builds tools and dies for the company, which it transfers to Parker’s production facilities.

MGS also produces parts for Honeywell, Cooper Standard Automotive and many other customers in the health care, telecommunications, automotive, electrical, consumer and other markets.

The company also designs and builds molding machines that it sells to other molding companies, Berg said.

“MGS Manufacturing Group also has Universal Multi-Shot Systems, which is where we build specialty equipment and automation systems,” he said. “Many of these are used by TecStar but they’re also sold to the outside market to other injection molders.”

MGS was founded in 1982 as Moldmakers Inc. by Mark Sellers, the company’s CEO and owner. At the time, Moldmakers was a tool and die shop that served plastic injection molders, Berg said.

In the early 1990s, Sellers invested in a few injection molding machines, so that the company could test its tooling before it sent it to clients who would run production.

“We’re a vertically integrated manufacturer today and one of the first steps that took us to that level was the ability to certify our molds,” Berg said.

After customers learned that Moldmakers had injection molding machines in house, it was only a matter of time until one asked the company to mold parts for it. And by 1996, the company broke ground on its first dedicated injection molding facility.

“That was when the MGS group was born,” Berg said.

The company now operates four injection molding facilities that work under the TecStar name. Its main TecStar plant in Germantown is about 200,000 square feet and employs 400 employees in three shifts. The company also operates factories in Libertyville, Ill. and Antioch, Ill., 30,000 and 38,000 square feet respectively, that have about 140 employees total. The Antioch facility features a certified medical clean room for producing medical-grade parts, Berg said.

TecStar opened a 81,000-square-foot facility in Chihuahua, Mexico at the beginning of this year, where it employs about 150 employees.

MGS employs another 100 workers in its 65,000-square-foot administrative and design center, also in Germantown.

By late August, the company plans to open a new 34,000-square-foot prototype center in Menomonee Falls, Berg said.

MGS posted about $104 million in revenues in 2007 and projects $120 million to $124 million in revenue this fiscal year, which closes in October. The company has grown its sales and revenues because of its expansion in Mexico, diversification in many different industries and growth in the medical and packaging industries, Berg said.

“We have to determine which markets have the most opportunity for long-term North American growth,” he said. “And there are two areas where we get excited – medical and packaging.”

The company sees long-term stability with medical devices and related items because of the incredible growth potential in the health care market, Berg said.

MGS’ packaging business is growing because of high shipping costs.

“One of the reasons you still see production in the U.S. is that you’re shipping air when you ship them here (from overseas),” he said.

Because of the increased demand for its packaging products and the relative high cost of shipping those products across the country, MGS is now considering building additional production facilities in several areas around the country, Berg said.

“We’re looking seriously at four different North American regions,” he said. “Southern California is most likely, but we’re also looking at the Carolinas, the Tennessee/Mississippi area and Ohio. Within the next six months, we’ll know where we’ll be. It’s all hinging on customer demand.

“These are strategic locations to better serve existing and perspective customers.”

 

MGS Manufacturing Corp.

Headquarters: W188 N11707 Maple Road, Germantown
Industry: Plastic molding, including injection molding, blow molding, clean room molding, mold-making, part design and engineering and automation.
Employees: About 800
Revenues:
$104 million in 2007, projected $120 million to $124 million for fiscal 2008.
Web site: www.mgstech.com

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