AMESBURY, Mass.—Flexaust Co. Inc. has expanded its manufacturing operations at its factory in Amesbury as it continues to optimize production among its four U.S. plants.
The maker of flexible hose and ducting in September added a fourth hose production line at Amesbury that is housed in new space Flexaust recently took over at the site, according to Mike O'Brien, the firm's vice president of sales and marketing.
Flexaust opened the facility in 2008 just as the economy was starting to take a turn for the worse, so it started with just 10,000 square feet.
“It was a little risky at the time because of the economy, so we kind of had a controlled size,” he said.
That marked a return to Amesbury for Flexaust, a subsidiary of Germany's Schauenburg GmbH's Hose Technology Group. The company had a presence there for about 50 years before prior ownership moved the hose firm to Warsaw, Ind., according to O'Brien, who is based in Newburyport, Mass.
When business started to rebound to pre-recession levels, Flexaust begin adding more capability to Amesbury, spending roughly $1 million on new equipment that brought onstream three new production lines since the start of 2014, including the one just installed, he said.
In that time, the company has boosted the space it occupies in the 350,000-sq.-ft. building that houses it to nearly 40,000 square feet, with an option to take more space later if needed.
Two of the hose machines are dedicated to produce the Flex-Tube line, which services the lawn/leaf collection, agricultural, shipyard and other industries with various explosion-proof vacuum hoses made of thermoplastic rubber, polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride. The products are made in up to 100-foot lengths and diameters from 3/4-inch to 12 inches.
The other two lines are used to make other ducting and hose products in the firm's line, O'Brien said. “It's really exciting to catch up capacity-wise to meet the demand that we're having with a couple of our customers.”
Flexaust officials are contemplating adding additional equipment in Amesbury that would manufacture a new product area for the firm. “We're always looking for new markets and new areas,” he said. “That's been the key to our growth—finding places where we haven't looked before and applications where we haven't been able to service before.”
Some of these new opportunities may be in the agricultural or industrial vacuum applications, he said, noting it's becoming more difficult to find uses that Flexaust hasn't been involved in previously, but the company keeps finding new things.
“Some of the new processes that we have allow us to go into new areas that's not flexible hose or ducting, using new materials or with improved products where older products were used before,” O'Brien said. “That's the fun part about this business. It's endless in different opportunities you can have in different markets.”
A portion of the Amesbury site is used for Flexaust's 24-hour shipping program, where products made in Indi-ana are brought there to give it a full line of the firm's goods to service the Northeast. Likewise, some products made in Amesbury are warehoused at Indiana and Las Vegas sites to ship when needed to customers in those regions.
The Massachusetts factory also houses the company's North American research and development group, with the engineers there working on nine major projects. “There are plenty of things to do, but we like to control the projects so we're not getting involved in too many at one time,” O'Brien said. “We try to stay focused on a list.”