Plastics company continues growth

Delavan company doubles size of plant

(Published October. 30, 2006, 11:38 a.m.)

By Chris Schultz/The Janesville Gazette

Vision Plastics might evoke the image of corrective lenses.

But that's the wrong view.

The company name has nothing to do with eyeballs. It refers to a different kind of vision, one that looks to the future, said Craig Hubertz, company president.

Vision Plastics Inc., 332 Hallberg St., in Delavan does injection molding for custom plastic parts. And the future looks bright for this small Walworth County plastics manufacturer.

Hubertz joined the company in 2001 as a partner with one of the founders, the late Warren Bentley, who died about 18 months ago.

Bentley had the entrepreneurial spirit, Hubertz said. He said the company's late co-founder realized it would take four to five years to incubate the company and get it established.

Hubertz said that when he joined Vision Plastics, the company had four employees, five machines and worked just one shift per day.

The company now employs 40, has 14 machines and works three shifts five days a week. The company is growing from within.

The plastics molder is doubling the size of its plant, going from 20,000 to 40,000 square feet. Hubertz said he didn't want to get into dollar figures on the new addition, but the expansion will add space for product design engineering.

That's a new direction for the company, which will now be able to do modeling and design on site, Hubertz said.

Space for product assembly, warehousing and offices will also be expanded in the new addition, which will be completed by April or May 2007, he said.

Hubertz said the company intends to hire additional employees, but didn't want to specify how many or when that expansion may take place. However, he did say the company will be adding a design engineer.

Still, the company remains small and nimble enough to fit into niches that other larger companies find hard to fill.

Hubertz said the company has grown hand over hand, adding machines and employees as it added new customers with new demands.

"There's very few of us here and we wear a lot of hats," Hubertz said.

That the public might mistake Vision Plastics with an optometrics supplier isn't too hard to believe, Hubertz said.

"We're not known by the average consumer," Hubertz said. "We don't do business with the public."

But people probably brush by Vision Plastic products everyday without realizing it. The company molds more than 140 different types of plastics, Hubertz said.

Plastic latches and plastic-coated metal latches made by Vison Plastics are used in doors and to secure seats in Ford, GM and Nissan vehicles, and soon for Chrysler products as well, Hubertz said. The company also makes end plates for neon ceiling lights and the plastic jackets that go over engine housings on Volvo Penta marine motors.

Other Vision Plastics customers include Hyundai, Ruud Lighting, Honda Lawn and Garden, Tecumseh Products, Wabash National, Pentair Water-Delavan Operations and Leisure Sporting Goods of Delavan.

Since July 2003, the company has been ISO 9001:2000 registered. Hubertz said he's quite proud of the fact that the company does quality control right at the point of production.

Hubertz started in the plastics business in 1972 with MPC in Walworth. He worked at Plastronics of East Troy, which was owned by his family, from 1985 until 2001, when the company was sold to a Detroit firm.

Also a "graduate" of MPC, Ray Schilz, now a vice president at Vision Plastics, was the company's first employee. Schilz said he met company co-founder Jack Boltz at a seminar in Chicago.

Schilz said they talked about starting up a company. Schilz said he was interested in growing a company from the start.

Vision Plastics started with five machines bought from another start-up company in Spring Grove, Ill., that failed. For a few months, the company's home was in Spring Grove, but in October 1997, the company relocated to Delavan.

It also started with an entirely different name.

The original name was International Plastic Technologies Inc., Hubertz said. But the name seemed too long. Schilz is credited with coming up with Vision Plastics.

The most recent addition to Vision Plastics is Richard Huwiler, now vice president of sales. With the company since May, Huwiler said his job will be to make connections with other world-class manufacturers and move Vision Plastics further up the supply chain.




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