MOLDMAKING REPORT (June 01, 2010)
Making it in today's manufacturing climate is a bit like climbing up a ladder-- you can't miss a step. And for moldmakers, these steps include location, focus, equipment, manpower, flexibility-- and the right products, of course.Concord,...
Making it in today’s manufacturing climate is a bit like climbing up a ladder– you can’t miss a step. And for moldmakers, these steps include location, focus, equipment, manpower, flexibility– and the right products, of course.
Concord, Ont.-based mold-maker Tesan Mould Inc. seems to have ascended the ladder better than many, which might explain why business is booming. Formerly heavily invested in–what else?–the automotive industry, the 30-year-old company has transitioned into designing and making molds for a variety of other sectors: thin wall food packaging, in particular, as well as medical components, and containers and trays.
LOCATION, LOCATION, EQUIPMENT
Founded by company president Riccardo Tesan, Tesan Mould arrived at its current level of success by making the most of its opportunities over the decades, beginning with logistics. “We used to be located in the heart of Toronto, but moved north to Concord in the late 1990s to be in the middle of our customer base, and also to take advantage of the highway infrastructure: the 400, the 401 and the 407,” said assistant manger Lucas Tesan.
A second step involves maintaining high levels of awareness and specialization. “These days, the cheap, dirty molds have all disappeared. The future lies in doing difficult components and taking on jobs that few others can, but without making the mistake of thinking that you can do it all,” Lucas Tesan said. “Presently, we’re restricting ourselves to designing and manufacturing medium to large molds, with a typical tonnage of between 150 to 1,000 tons, but we’re diversified within that range, making both stack and IML molds.”
Having the latest in CNC machinery, 3D-prototyping equipment–and more–is critical here. “We perform a lot of five-axis machining work, and own a large five-axis machine, which is rare,” Lucas Tesan continued. “The machine is busy virtually 24 hours a day, and we have a small night shift working with it, grinding, drilling, and doing other mold services around the clock. Most of our employees have been with us for over 10 years, and are happy to put in the extra work because they understand that the days of working from 9:00 to 5:00 are over.”
ADIOS TO AUTOMOTIVE WORK
The willingness to take on mold repair work, refurbishment and engineering changes doesn’t hurt, either. “We repair other molds that our customers have acquired from other shops, and even from other countries,” Riccardo Tesan said. “It’s a service our customers definitely appreciate, especially now, when they’re beginning to get busy again and need molds that are up to new jobs. It’s cost-effective for them and works very well for us.”
Even with these strengths, it’s doubtful the company would be maintaining its present size and scale without a transition away from making automotive molds. “We spent years phasing out of the automotive sector, and are pursuing what we regard as better avenues, such as molds for food packaging, medical parts, rigid containers and trays, and pails and lids,” Lucas Tesan said. “The automotive sector is a tough one to be in, and we’re glad not to be over-invested in it.”
While there are no guarantees, Tesan Mould can probably stand as a blueprint for adapting and surviving in a brave new world.
“It’s definitely been a rough few years–probably the worst I’ve ever seen–but we’ve stayed strong by trying to adjust to changes before they become widespread,” Riccardo Tesan said. “It sounds simple but it’s not, and there’s really no other way to succeed these days.”
Tesan Mould Inc. (Concord, Ont.);