Decatur Mold Tool & Engineering Inc.

50 years of leading plastic injection molding and full-service tooling
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Lance Pelletier

Decatur Mold Tool & Engineering Inc. has been in the mold and tool industry since 1966 when Richard Apsley co-founded the company. The business originally started as a five-man shop in a 2,400-square-foot facility. Today Decatur Mold occupies more than 87,000 square feet with a full-size campus in North Vernon, Indiana, as well as a subsidiary in Shenzhen, China.

The ISO-9001-certified company has expanded to serve customers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico in numerous industries with a heavy focus on automotive, appliance, consumer, custom, juvenile, medical and military customers. From small mom-and-pop shops to major OEM’s Decatur Mold has grown a loyal customer following.

Decatur Mold Tool & Engineering Inc.

Over the last 50 years Decatur Mold has built its business on a strong work ethic and desire to provide the best service and quality in the industry. Offering timely turnarounds, rapid results and leading experience, Decatur Mold has forged a strong reputation over the last five decades.

“This is our 50th year in business so we have a lot of experience and extensive knowledge in tooling,” says Larry Waltz, vice president of Decatur Mold. “We’re not tied to one industry. Our expertise spans a range of industries and we serve customers nationwide and throughout North America.”

Extensive tooling capabilities

In North Vernon Decatur Mold has a staff of 120 employees including office personnel, tool design, program management, estimating, sales, service and manufacturing tool makers and processors. The company also has 25 employees in its technical center in Shenzhen.

Historically Decatur Mold has focused on tooling as its primary service. “Building tools, designing and servicing tools have always been our primary business drivers,” says Waltz.

With nine injection molding presses on-site, as well was electrical discharge machines, drilling and spotting equipment, boring mills and grinding equipment, Decatur Mold has ramped up its manufacturing capabilities in recent years. In just the last six months Decatur Mold has added two new pieces of equipment: CNC machining center Makino F5 30,000 RPM spindle and CNC machining center Matsuura VX1500 15,000 RPM spindle.

Using Siemens Unigraphics design workstations, Decatur Mold offers prototyping, sampling and small-run production, as well as contract manufacturing. Diverse in-house abilities give Decatur Mold some flexibility as the business is not tied to a single industry. “We’re able to serve other custom injection molders, automotive OEMs, Tier 1 manufacturers and large component assemblers across numerous industries,” says Waltz.

Decatur Mold focuses on quick turnaround, low volume parts projects. “This process allows for overall lower cost, faster lead times and allows us to be responsive to our customers’ needs but also cost competitive,” says Waltz.

In terms of service, Decatur Mold runs a 24/7, on-call shop. “We have four flatbed semis and several straight trucks with drivers around the clock,” says Waltz. “We’ll dispatch quickly to serve our customers. We’re one of the few tooling shops that have this service to offer.”

Parts concepts to completion

Whether it’s an instrument panel, car door part or refrigerator component, Decatur Mold can take any part file and turn it into a tangible solution. “Our customers come to us with a part design and we design the mold to make the part,” explains Waltz. “They also specify what type of plastic resin they want to use and what size injection molding press the tool will go in.”

For automotive customers, who comprise about 60 percent of Decatur Mold’s business, the company offers full-service molding for a range of parts: center consoles and hard trim to under-hood components and engine manifolds. “We do a handful of new program launches which can be up to 15 to 20 tools,” says Waltz. “The program often lasts five years until the automotive OEM decides to redesign that particular part. But these don’t come in all the time; many times it’s just a single tool or a few parts.”

Decatur Mold also serves big names in appliances and consumer products, fabricating components for dishwashers, AC units, coffee makers, lawn and garden equipment and more. “There are more frequent life cycle changes in this industry,” says Waltz.

Celebrating long-running relationships and 50 years

In order to accommodate a wide range of customer requests Decatur Mold works closely with trusted suppliers and vendors. “We source our steel from suppliers that offer German-made steels, knowing we can count on them for quality and timely delivery so we can start the cutting process,” says Waltz. “Once the tool is built, oftentimes it requires texture and we have three main texture sources. We also use hot runner vendors and plastic resin suppliers to procure the right resin in a timely manner so we can sample and produce plastic parts.”

Although Decatur Mold had to make cutbacks in light of the 2008 recession, Waltz says business is back on the up and sales continue to grow year over year. “We downsized and reassessed how we are going to do things, focusing on service, which really got us through,” he says.

Business has really seen a boost in the last five to six years. “Our equipment is doing more for us and we’re always finding ways to be more efficient,” says Waltz. “We’re focused on strategic growth by staying diversified and increasing the avenues for customers to reach us to get a quote, as well as new markets where we can extend our reach and improve our penetration.”

Overall, Decatur Mold is confident in its industry standing, capabilities and team. “We’re solid, we’re good at what we do and we’re pretty proud of it,” says Waltz, who has been with the business for more than 33 years.

“Decatur Mold will celebrate its 50th year in business with several open house tours and customer and employee appreciation days, including an Employee of the Month recognition. Even as the company makes big steps it has managed to hold tight some core values, one being people first. “We’re still very much a family-oriented business,” says Waltz. “We do a lot for our employees and as a result, we have very little turnover.”

Keeping these values central and serving customers faster, Decatur Mold Tool & Engineering Inc. continues to build its reputation as one of the best in the plastic injection molding and tooling business.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
PCS Company