M.R. Mold looks to Survive Choppy Business Cycle

By Brad Dawson

Rubber & Plastics News Staff

BREA, Calif.—While the medical sector has been a good market to supply, the general state of the economy has left M.R. Mold & Engineering Corp. in survival rather than growth mode, according to its top official.

The last two years have been a “roller coaster ride,” M.R. Mold President Rick Finnie said, with projects going on for four months or so, followed by a slow period and then another short busy period.

“We’ve been through that cycle four or five times, battling to get every bit of work we can and trying to keep everyone busy and watch our costs. It’s been a tough couple of years.”

The trend has continued as of late, with the company quite busy at the end of last year but not as much so early this year. But Finnie believes business in general is pushing back up, with frequent quoting and several customers going through approval stages with projects. “I think 2010 will be a strong year, even though it didn’t start out that way.”

The company is trying to stay visible and active in the industry, making appearances at several shows such as the Medical Design & Manufacturing expos in Anaheim, Calif.; New York; and Minneapolis, and co-sponsoring the Molding 2010 event in San Antonio in April.

Finnie also is making a paper presentation at the International Silicone Conference in Cleveland in May.

Down the road, M.R. Mold expects to see more automation in the industry, with fewer operators and more robots, he said. There will be more thermoplastic elastomers in the medical field, and a potential trend toward more manufacturing returning from overseas as issues such as intellectual technology and freight costs become more important.

The company will need to respond by expanding technology of its own, especially within its tech center and the liquid silicone rubber tooling sector, Finnie said. He’d like to see the company get into two-shot molding, an area he believes it could succeed in given its capabilities in plastic and silicone.

He also envisions more partnering with industry colleagues and helping customers develop their automatic production cells and enhance their technologies.

Finnie said he looks forward to the challenges going forward. And while he said he never had a plan for all he’s accomplished looking back 25 years, he admits he wanted to establish a company with goals of being the best in the industry, being technologically advanced and providing its customers a competitive advantage.

“With hard work and dedication,” he said, “you can make it happen.”