Sumitomo Demag begins phase one of US expansion plan

Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery North America Inc. will focus on its SE series of machines at a new facility near Atlanta.

Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery North America Inc.

Updated Feb. 5: Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery North America Inc. is moving into a 74,000-square-foot facility in Suwanee, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, as phase one of a three-part U.S. expansion plan for 2019.

The Japanese injection molding machinery maker said Feb. 4 the new facility is nearly triple the size of the Norcross, Ga., site it will replace. The lease on the Norcross facility is up at the end of February.

The Suwanee facility, also a leased building, will serve as Sumitomo’s North American headquarters and employ more than 30 people. So far, the company has hired about seven additional workers as part of the strategy.

The site will house corporate, sales, field service and other aftersales support offices as well as hands-on and classroom training areas. The facility will also have a new, larger tech center that will feature Sumitomo’s SE series all-electric presses in clamping forces ranging from 33-562 tons, various specialized options and other auxiliary equipment. The center will be used for machine demos, mold tests, hands-on training and other activities.

The company said the Suwanee facility will officially open Feb. 25, with training classes beginning in April. An open house is planned for later this year.

The location will also be used for storing stock models of Sumitomo’s all-electric injection molding machines, primarily the SE series, and modifying the machines to meet customer specifications. The larger facility will allow Sumitomo to stock around 70 machines at any given time.

“The beauty there is not only are we adding to the headcount and the resources, but with the new facility we’ll be able to import machines … from Japan and do the in-house modifications ourselves here in the U.S. much quicker, and then be able to ship directly to customers,” John Martich III, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Sumitomo’s U.S. operations, said in a Feb. 4 phone interview.

Phase one of the expansion plan marks an $800,000 investment for the machinery maker, he said, citing facility upgrades such as renovated office space and new bay doors and cranes, among other building improvements to accommodate larger injection molding machines. Martich was unable to discuss phase two and three of the expansion plan at this time.

Parent company Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd., based in Tokyo, started selling injection molding machines in the United States in 1980. In addition to the Georgia location, Sumitomo has a technology center in Strongsville, Ohio, where it houses various models of Sumitomo Demag injection presses as well as rebuilding operations for Van Dorn-brand machines.

Martich cited shifting circumstances and changes in the business environment that require quicker delivery of machinery to customers as big drivers behind the expansion in the U.S. market. With build-to-order production, delivery times on average can take anywhere from 15-20 weeks or more, depending on the level of complexity, he said.

“But to be able to take an existing stock machine, configure it quickly, do the engineering work, the design, the installation, and ship it to the customer within a matter of 30 days is a competitive advantage Sumitomo has in North America,” he said.

Around 80 percent of Sumitomo’s North American employees work in the aftersales side of the business, which includes the machinery modification team, technical staff and others, Martich said.

“That gives us a huge advantage because there’s a significant ratio of our business that supports a quick delivery strategy in North America,” he said, adding that the technical staff employees have an average tenure of more than 20 years with the company.

“It’s us taking personal ownership of a piece of equipment and then servicing that machine for 15 or 20 years down the road that we can handle on our own, independently,” he said.

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