Additional die-cast machines to add 71 percent to existing capabilities.
Management at S.U.S. Cast Products Inc. hopes to increase the foundry’s die-casting capabilities by 71 percent after its newest machines are installed this year.
S.U.S. Cast Products has several machines on order, according to company president and part owner JR Merlau, and may purchase more. He expects the die-cast machines and their auxiliary equipment to be installed and running by fall.
The aluminum foundry currently operates seven die-cast machines. Merlau expects to have five to seven more installed for a total of a dozen. The number of new machines will depend on whether the company decides to replace its two oldest die-cast machines.
Cass County Council recently approved a four-year tax abatement on SUS Cast Products’ new equipment, an investment of about $1.3 million according to abatement documents.
“We’ve been fortunate to gain some new business,” Merlau said. “And many of our customers are also growing.”
The business ships throughout North America, including significant business in Mexico, mostly to commercial and industrial customers.
New die-cast machines were ordered in the fall. Used ones, either on tap to be rebuilt or planned to be installed as is, will make up the rest of the five to seven brought in, Merlau said.
He anticipates installation and hookup of the die-cast machines and the accompanying equipment including a furnace for each will happen in about six months.
“They’re big machines, like a freight train engine not quite that big, but that scale,” Merlau said.
The additional machinery has already brought about 30 new positions, Merlau said. Most of the new employees have already been hired and are undergoing training so they’ll be ready when the machines are fired up.
“There might be an additional 10 or 20 employees when we get there,” Merlau added.
Currently the foundry employs about 80 in three shifts. Those there are working six to seven days per week to keep up with customer needs using the existing machines, Merlau said.
It’s a far different story from just a few years ago. In 2009, the company cut more than 20 positions in its second round of layoffs in just nine months, dropping the workforce there to 49 employees.
A longtime S.U.S. Cast Products manager is happy to see the turnaround.
“This is a much more enjoyable problem,” said Jeff Todd, the company’s vice president and co-owner who’s seen S.U.S. Cast Products grow since joining his father there in 1993. “How to get everything done rather than ‘what am I going to do.’ “
S.U.S. Cast Products, reportedly the state’s oldest non-captive die casting company, was founded in Logansport in 1946.