BREA, Calif.—Rick Finnie was worried his company didn't have a niche.
Back in 2000, the American Mold Builders Association brought in Clare Goldsberry to address mold makers during a time when the industry was losing a lot of production overseas, namely China. Fellow mold makers were trying to do everything possible to keep production in the U.S.—even lobbying Congress. According to Finnie, Goldsberry had a different solution.
He said she challenged the group to find a niche. After the show, Finnie, president of M.R. Mold & Engineering, didn't see a clear niche for his firm, until he took it back to basics and started focusing on silicone again.
“Most people don't seem to realize that we have a background in building plastic injection tools,” Finnie said while hosting the AMBA on a tour of his operations in February. “We seem to have ourselves centered to where we build silicone tools and plastic tools, which makes us ideal for overmolding projects. If we make both of the tools, we bear sole responsibility for how it's going to work out.”
The firm and its 30 employees have succeeded in chasing silicone-related business, including the medical industry. In 2008, M.R. Mold acquired another portion of the building where its primary facility in Brea is headquartered to open a technical center. It includes five molding machines and provides testing and sampling of tools.
In 2015, the firm purchased a five-axis tooling machine, which allows it to work with more complex geometries. The machine reduces setups significantly, removing the need to rotate the piece multiple times manually. It eliminated a substantial amount of its EDM operations because it is now able to machine a wider variety of items.
The firm invested $650,000 for the machine.
“It's been six months, and I'd say within the first three or four weeks there was a sigh of relief, because people were initially scared of it,” Finnie said. “After about four weeks, people started breathing a little easier. To this day, we're still discovering opportunities as to how to improve our process.”