Milan Conception Inc., a designer and manufacturer of custom machinery mainly in the automotive industry, is planning its second expansion since 2016.
The expansion will help the company keep up with demand, said Francois Cayer, who works in sales and marketing at Milan. The new addition will increase the total size of its Sherbrooke, Quebec, facility by 5,000 square feet, bringing the total to 23,000 square feet. Between 10-20 new jobs will be created. Investment details of the expansion, which is set to begin within the next eight months, were not disclosed.
The growth planned for 2018 comes after an investment of $1.6 million in 2016 that more than doubled the size of the facility, bringing it to 18,000 square feet. Of that, 13,000 square feet was set aside for manufacturing and about 5,000 square feet was used for administration and design teams, according to a news release from the Elastomer Valley association.
Milan Conception has been a part of Elastomer Valley, a group of Quebec rubber industry companies joined together for development projects, for the past three years. As it builds its own machinery such as cutting, notching and molding units to supply mainly the automotive weatherstrip business, more space and equipment was needed, such as computer numerical control machines, Cayer said.
"The more machines we need to produce, the more CNC we need to have," he said. "This is mostly why we grew and doubled the floorspace. If we grow bigger, we don't want the project timeline to grow bigger also. This is a challenge for the automotive industry. The lead time for a project is very, very short."
With the 2016 expansion, Milan hired 10 new employees, showing continued growth during the last few years, Cayer said.
"Two years ago, we were 10 or 12 employees, and today we are 50," he said. "Double the workspace and more than double the number of employees."
Milan Conception has been in business for 10 years, created by company Managers Steeve Michaud and Benoit Langlois, and began exporting outside Canada within the last five years, Cayer said. It started by exporting to Europe, opened pathways into China, Mexico and Brazil, and now is working on U.S. markets.
Milan joined other Elastomer Valley representatives for its first year at the International Elastomer Conference, held in Cleveland from Oct. 9-12. Exporting machines to the U.S. and bringing people across the border to do the installation can be challenging and involve lots of documentation, he said.
The company tries to build machines that have additional value for the customer, such as equipment that can accept rubber variation that others can't.
Another goal is to place representatives in other countries who can answer questions and provide after-sale service in the customer's native language. Though Cayer can be on a plane and arrive to help with a problem with 24 hours now, Milan wants to have a representative there even sooner than that, he said.
"We have to keep working hard, because the technology is always evolving and we have to stay on top," Cayer said. "This is why we love to be in a group where we can share our knowledge, because this helps us to stay on top of the industry."