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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 19, 2017

Lomont Molding continues to grow

Jul 27, 2017
Photo by: Karyn Spory Lomont Molding, LLC., is one of several local manufacturers that will be expanding. Above, Marketing Manager Carl Frank describes the different processes used to create the plastic molds.

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Many traveling east on Mapleleaf Drive in Mt. Pleasant have no idea what sits inside the 100,000 square foot building on the south side of the road. Or even what is produced there. But without even knowing it, they’ve likely already come into contact with the byproduct of Lomont Molding, LLC.

“It’s amazing how many people drive by this place and have no idea what we do,” joked Carl Frank, marketing manager.

In a nut shell, the company molds plastic. But what exactly comes from that plastic? A little bit of everything, Frank will say.

The company makes the handles for chain saws, the heads of bristle brushes and machine tags for companies like West Liberty Foods, just to name a few.

Lomont’s customers include companies like Billy Goat, Thermo King Global, Hunter, Tennant Company, Trane: Heating and Air Conditioning Services and Hussmann — the largest refrigeration case manufacturer, like what customers see in grocery stores and Wal-Mart.

“We’ve been a part of a lot of different products,” said Frank. “I can’t say that we have (product) in every store, but certainly if you walk into an implement dealer or Wal-Mart, a molded (plastic) part is probably ours in there somewhere.”

Lomont Molding was started in 1982 by JD Schimmelphenning. Back then, the company specialized in just one form of plastic molding — low-pressure structural foam molding. “It’s a different type of process than most people associate with injection molding,” said Frank. “It puts air into the mold, which causes the cellular structure. It gives you lightweight (plastic) but a lot of structural strength.”

The company then moved into high pressure injection molding in 1989.

“In 2000, we did what they call nitrogen gas assist molding. You put gas into the plastic part and it creates air cavities. It decreases the amount of plastic you’re using,” explained Frank.

That form of molding is used a lot for the spool cabling the company produces for ContiTech, also located in Mt. Pleasant.

The company also started doing over molding, an injection molding that is done twice, in 2000. Three years later the company began doing in-mold decorating and a decade later, in 2013, extrusion profiling. Extrusion profiling takes raw thermoplastic material in the form of small beads and feeds them from a top-mounted hopper into the barrel of an extruder. Frank explains this process is similar to injection molding. And now, in 2017, blow molding.

The company didn’t just expand plastic processing, it expanded locations and divisions with Paragon Products (1993), Total Source Molders (2014) and this year with the acquisition of R & D Molders, in Texas.

The company is not done expanding, this time at home.

“This whole area here,” Frank says as he sweeps his hand over the shipping and receiving area, “is going to be empty when we put our new addition on. We’re moving all of this out and this will be open.”

The plan, once the boxes and boxes of plastic parts to be shipped have been moved to their new location, is to put in new machines.

“We’re planning on putting at least five machines in here,” says Frank.

“We’re going to increase our capabilities. We need to increase our capabilities,” he continued. “Ted Richardson is the vice president of sales. He’s the guy who brings in all this business.”

The current shipping and receiving area will be moved to the new 25,000 square feet addition, which Frank hopes will be complete in mid-August and operational in December.

As of Monday, July 24, all of the concrete work on the extension has been completed and the structural steel has been installed. Frank hopes to have the walls put up later this week or next week.

Increasing the company’s capabilities means increasing workload requirements per shift. Which in turn means more employees.

“We need more qualified employees,” said Frank.

Frank said he doesn’t have a hard number for how many employees Lomont will be hiring due to the expansion, but qualified employees are something the company is always on the lookout for are more employees as customer requests keep rolling in.

As for the new machinery, Lomont President Jason Bender said it often depends on how long it takes employees to master a new plastic molding process.

“It really depends on what technology we have to get. If we can do a new process with existing equipment then it doesn’t take as long,” he said. “Now, if it’s brand-new equipment that we’ve not had before or not had any experience with, that learning curve is a little bit longer.”

No matter the job, machine or form of plastic molding, Frank said the two most important tenants of Lomont Molding are quality and customer support.

“Our number one goal here is to make sure everybody here concentrates on quality. When they’re making that part, they’re cognizant of what the customer would think of the part. Are they doing the right thing by the customer? That is the number one thing we think about on the line,” said Frank. “It’s what we call a culture of quality. We try to instill that into everything we do here.”

Frank hopes employees also feel a sense of pride in their work. “We try to make it, as much as possible, a feeling that we’re all in this together,” said Frank. “I know that sounds cliché, but it’s a wonderful thing if you can get everyone to believe in it and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Lomont Molding is located at 1516 East Mapleleaf Drive, in Mt. Pleasant. Lomont currently employs about 180 people.

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