Colton, CA – The long time Inland Empire plastics manufacturer lost its founder last fall, but the family has been ready to run the company for some time. Judy Lopez, president of Microdyne Plastics, is supported by her four siblings in the continuation of the family business.
Despite founder Ron Brown’s daily involvement even in his eighties, his five children and one grandchild have run most of the different processes of the complex business for many years. Most have been involved since they were kids in one way or another.
Judy Lopez took classes at Mt. San Antonio College but simultaneously performed multiple jobs and functions in shipping, receiving, mold set up, mold running, sales, project management, company representation, business development, quality control, and engineering. She had one of the best to teach her, her father. “He taught me on a drawing board, and that led to learning about computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing,” Lopez stated in an interview with Plastics News, “He was a good teacher.”
In order of age from the oldest to the youngest, Rhonda Torres deals with legal issues, Duane Brown is vice president of sales and project management, Judy Lopez is president, Tracey Kimberlin handles marketing and human resources, and Scott Brown is the tooling manager being groomed for duties as general manager.
Carol Brown, Ron’s wife and their mother, was one of the original owner of the business in 1975. She died in 2009 of cancer. A sixth family member, Judy’s daughter Tracey Lopez, coordinates human resources and customer services.
With Ronald Brown’s passing, the five children share Microdyne ownership and a total of nine people own the 88,900-square-foot building in Colton.
2015 saw lots of activities to further the recovery from the start of the great recession. On the equipment side, “we’ve invested $230,000 for replacements,” she said during an interview at the Colton facility with Plastics News. Novatec Incorporated supplied a dryer and has a Microdyne order for another unit. Thermal Care, delivered a 100-ton chiller with two portable chillers still to come in 2016.
Microdyne operates 29 injection molding machines ranging from a 1-ton Dynacast to a 400-ton model.
“In January for molding PET preforms, we plan to remove six smaller presses and replace them with three larger presses in the range of 350-400-tons,” she said.
In the late 1990s, the firm began extrusion blow molding of sport bottles and, around 2008, started the stretch blow molding of PET bottles. These are now being done with machines from Tetra Pak International SA, Nissei ASB Machine Co. Ltd., and Chumpower Machinery Corp.
Microdyne has nine extrusion blow molding machines including five hydraulic Bekum twin-station H-151 and H-155 models.
Two other extrusion blow molders are hydraulic MG mini models from Magic MP SpA.
Ongoing and new inactivates include a variety of activities. Microdyne expertise supports the health care industry, in its work involving minimally invasive brain and heart surgical procedures.
Recently, Microdyne purchased a computer numerical control tool for tapping and a CNC lathe, both from Haas Automation Inc.“It took us approximately six months to have the 12 molds made and running in production,” Lopez said. We needed to assemble 35 components in making the device. “Our client needs pinpoint accuracy for brain surgery,” she said.
In the environmental market, Microdyne blow molded about 9 million water-shade-conservation balls of high density polyethylene and injection molded the HDPE plug for each. Water partially fills each four-inch-diameter ball to keep winds from lifting it.
End users for open-water reservoir applications have included the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts Inc. in California’s San Gabriel Mountains.
Microdyne is exploring potential for the product in various export markets and the hydraulic fracturing industry for natural gas and petroleum extraction.
While scrutinizing carefully, “we work with entrepreneurs and inventors if a product looks viable,” Lopez said.
Microdyne is certified under the ISO 9001:2008 standard, is pursuing ISO 9001:2015, and in the future, intends to seek ISO 13485 for medical processing. “At that time, we will re-outfit the clean room,” she said.
In July, the firm began rewriting its standard operating procedures with consulting guidance from Expert Resource of Upland, California, Lopez projects a “six-month journey” for the rewriting and teaching aspects.
Between the six family members, they have collectively many decades of experience in the business. The founder is missed, yet the next generation sees good things ahead too.