Venture Plastics gets Nissan Altima contract

NEWTON FALLS — Venture Plastics Inc. got the reason it needed to expand when it was awarded a contract to mold the plastic trunk finisher for the 2019 Nissan Altima.

To make the part that protects the trunk’s latch mechanism, the company needed a new injection molding machine because the 720-ton molder just wouldn’t do; it was too weak.

So the company invested in a 1,400-ton molder and to accommodate the massive machine at its Warren Ravenna Road, Newton Falls, headquarters, it added 17,000 square feet to the building and brought on workers to crank out the part.

“It’s a big program, big product … what the program did for us was give us a reason to expand our operation, so we expanded into a 17,000-square-foot facility, we upsized our tonnage capacity,” said Al Shultice, director of sales for Venture. “Before we only had that envelope that was 55 to 720 tons. Anything that was bigger than 720 we had to pass on that business so we were limited. Now that we have the 1,440-ton machine, we can mold parts up to the size of 20-gallon trash cans.”

“For years it was on our wish list to get into that larger tonnage, but the opportunities really never presented themselves on a large scale, so when this opportunity came about, it was large enough scale for us to have that reason to go ahead and look at that expansion,” Shultice said.

Tonnage refers to the amount of force needed to mold the piece.

The location has 20 presses that range from 55 ton to 1,440 ton to stamp component parts to tier one manufacturers in a wide variety of markets, including energy storage, solar, automotive, appliance, railroad, electronic and consumer.

About 30 percent of its business is in the automotive sector and 30 percent in the energy storage industry, Shultice said.

It employs about 180 workers at the Newton Falls plant and about 230 people overall, the rest at a sister plant in El Paso, Texas. At the local facility, about 30 people work on each of the three shifts.

It’s also marking its 50th year of business this year. The company had a celebration of the golden anniversary milestone Sept. 20 with an open house and customer / vendor appreciation day and Sept. 21 was the employee appreciation day.

There also are a series of smaller events for employees throughout the year.

The expansion was finished in March 2018 and full production in the new space started August 2018. In July of this year, the company closed on a piece of business that will fill the balance of the 1,440-ton mold’s capacity, Shultice said.

Production is set to begin in 2020, but due to a nondisclosure agreement, Shultice could not reveal much more except the contract is with an Ohio company in the packaging industry.

Adding the contract for the Altima meant three new press operators per shift. The company also upgraded a 720-ton mold to a 950-ton mold and added a state-of-the-art Nachi 6-Axis robot that picks up the inserts, places them in the mold and removes them when the part is finished.

It’s a more efficient method of molding and creates a safer workspace for the employees by keeping them away from the machine.

The company, which is certified by automotive standards for quality products, began in 1969 near Middlefield and eventually located to Newton Falls. It now ships across North America as far south as Piedras Negras, Mexico, and as far north as Montreal, Canada, Shultice said.

About 45 percent of its products are shipped to Mexico. Less than 1 percent are shipped outside of North America, but to a supplier with a U.S. base.