Moldmaker’s niche is making difficult tools
At Pinnacle Mold Inc. (Oldcastle, ON) quoting is up and a number of new orders have come in, all of which makes president Ken Hedgewick hopeful that the worst of a recession that has hit moldmakers es...
At Pinnacle Mold Inc. (Oldcastle, ON) quoting is up and a number of new orders have come in, all of which makes president Ken Hedgewick hopeful that the worst of a recession that has hit moldmakers especially hard is over (see cover story, p. 27). Like all mold shops, Pinnacle experienced the pain of the downturn, especially when a horrid November and December forced the company to lay off 11 people. Yet, overall sales actually increased in 2001 by about 10 percent and most of the employees laid off have been called back. Hedgewick credits market diversification and specialized tool making competence for the company’s ability to come through the shock of the recession in relatively good shape.
“We have a nucleus of customers who have niche products that require certain tooling capabilities that are not common to the industry as a whole,” Hedgewick notes.
In particular, Pinnacle has developed a reputation for designing and building multi-shot tooling and high quality, technically challenging molds for the industrial automotive lighting markets. In multi-shot tooling, two different colors or two different materials are shot into the mold cavity in sequence, usually after the mold is rotated or indexed into position. Examples of parts molded in this manner include automotive lamp lenses with two or more different colors, or seals which combine hard plastic with a softer material such as a TPE.
Another area of expertise at Pinnacle is molds used to make refractor-type industrial lighting lenses and domes. The tight tolerances, sharp angles of the cuts, and the importance of the relationship of one cut to the next when building these molds ultimately translates into a type of job security.
“We had one customer who tried to get this type of tooling built in Portugal and they kept having to send it back for repairs,” Hedgewick says. “Our tools don’t go back for repairs.”
Pinnacle has been in business since 1995 when Hedgewick and his partners Wayne McLaughlin and Elli Dietrich bought out the assets of Kirby Tool. Hedgewick literally cut his teeth in the moldmaking business as his father, Peter Hedgewick, founded International Tools, which was one of the first shops in Canada to make molds for plastic injection molding.
Today Pinnacle has 48 employees, seven CNC machines, five EDMs and one high-speed three-axis CNC. Hedgewick says the company is looking to buy a five-axis high-speed machine in the near future. He believes high-speed machining, with its ability to reduce set-up and benching time, is necessary to compete, but no more important than good people.
“Our biggest asset is our people,” says Hedgewick. “I’d put them up against any shop’s.”