Feature

Moldmaking Report: Moldmaker seeking to expand its business south of the border

New equipment, personnel brought in to kick-start strategy


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June 1, 2002 by Canadian Plastics

The new team at Profine: Steve Horner (left), v-p sales and marketing, and Irene Faria, v-p finance, with founder Manual Gomes.
The new team at Profine: Steve Horner (left), v-p sales and marketing, and Irene Faria, v-p finance, with founder Manual Gomes.

Profine Moulds Inc. is aiming to take its business to the next level with an aggressive marketing strategy aimed at doubling its sales in the next two years. The Mississauga, ON company, which specializes in the manufacture of injection molds for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, medical and packaging industries, was founded in 1994 by moldmaker Manuel Gomes, and currently has revenues in the range of about $5 million.

Gomes insists, however, that growth will not come at the expense of current customer service or product quality. “The key is to expand at the right pace,” says Gomes. “We must continue to work closely with customers who require molds that are built accurately and precisely.”

In order to implement its plan Profine has recently purchased a new Japanese-made EDM, as well as a German-made high-speed CNC milling centre. It has also built a 4000 sq. ft. mezzanine to give the plant a total of 18,000 sq. ft. of office and shop floor space. The mezzanine frees up floor space for additional machinery and houses the plant’s CAM programming and polishing operations.

Gomes has also recently brought two new key personnel on board in the form of Irene Faria, part-owner and vice-president in charge of finance, and Steve Horner, vice-president sales and marketing. Faria is a chartered accountant with over 20 years experience in public finance and Horner has significant experience in the plastics moldmaking industry. Their presence will allow Gomes to focus on customer service, mold manufacturing and employee training.

Gomes entered the moldmaking industry at the age of 15 in Portugal, working in the shop during the day and taking apprentice courses at night school. Looking for new opportunities, he came to Canada in 1988 with his wife and small children.

Gomes says the company’s growth plans will stay centered on the company’s core strengths in making molds for the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and packaging industries, where he believes there are a lot of prospects for new business. While not as volatile as the automotive market, these markets have their own peculiarities, which translate into technical demands in the mold manufacturing and service side of operations.

“In automotive a typical mold may see 200,000 shots a year,” notes Steve Horner. “Our molds are built to take at least 40 to 60 million shots a year.”

Horner says new equipment like the high-speed CNC machine recently purchased is necessary to make each cavity in, say, a 48-cavity mold, identical and easy to replace if it should become worn or damaged under these production conditions. Profine also incorporates innovative engineering techniques in the design of its molds to make them easy to maintain.

Presently, about 60 to 70% of Profine’s business is in Canada, with the majority of the rest going to the U.S. Gomes believes the best short-term opportunities for growth are in the U.S., but in the longer term is interested in developing the South American and Mexican markets. The company is participating in an Export Development Canada trade mission to Mexico this fall, and has a sales representative in the country. Profine has succeeded in getting some business in Mexico, mainly by effectively recognizing the Mexican industry’s unique needs.

“In Mexico you have to be more involved with product design,” says Gomes, noting that the country has a different understanding of product warranty issues and design responsibility than North American businesses.

Nonetheless, Gomes sees huge potential in Mexico and South America. For a company interested in expanding, adjusting to the needs of customers, wherever they are located, is just part of the job, he notes.