Business View Magazine interviews Scott Balogh, Executive VP of Mar-Bal, Inc., as part of our series on the composites industry.
Mar-Bal, Inc., of Chagrin Falls Ohio, is a leading integrated compounder and molder of BMC (Bulk Molding Compounds) Thermoset composite products, and value added finishing services. Composites are solid materials composed of two or more materials with different physical characteristics. Each substance independently contributes its physical properties to the combined product.
Thermoset composites are blends of various resins, such as polyester, isopolyester, vinylester, epoxy and phenolic, combined with inert fillers, fiber reinforcements, catalysts, stabilizers, release agents, thickeners, and pigments that form viscous compounds, which are injection, compression, and transfer moldable. Thermoset composites cure through heat, chemical reaction, and pressure to form an inter-linked molecular structure which permanently maintains its form and cannot be melted, reformed, or dissolved. Mar-Bal’s thermoset products are used in various industries, including appliance, construction, electrical distribution, energy, HVAC, lighting, marine, sanitary/plumbing, and transportation.
Mar-Bal was founded in 1970, and today, is a second-generation, family-owned business. Its President is Scott Balogh, and its Executive Vice President is Steven Balogh. The company was begun by their father, Jim Balogh, a Cleveland-based tool and die engineer, and the brothers both worked in their dad’s business through junior high and high school, then returned in their thirties after graduating college and working elsewhere. Today, the company employs 500 people at three manufacturing facilities in the U.S. – Ohio, Missouri, and Virginia – an R&D center in Ohio, a plant in Taizhou, China, and a sales office in Shanghai.
“We’re a niche in the plastics industry,” says Scott. “We make composite resins and we mold and fabricate a lot of different products for a number of different industries. Most of our customers are Fortune 1000 companies and, in a number of circumstances, we’re really their manufacturing engineers. They may have a particular part or product that they want to make with certain material attributes and they’ll come to us. We know our customers’ businesses very well; we know how they design and manufacture their products, and we know where we can add value. We’ll take their initial product ideas, and we’ll design it so it manufactures well.”
“We’re unique from the standpoint that we’re vertically integrated in a number of processes,” Scott continues. “We’re a one-source solution. We can take their part design, we can model it electronically, we can do an FEA analysis (Finite Element Analysis is a computerized method for predicting how a product reacts to real-world forces, vibration, heat, fluid flow, and other physical effects. FEA shows whether a product will break, wear out, or work the way it was designed.), and, if they choose, we can source everything for them – we can source the tooling; we’ll go through all the quality and production approvals; we can then mold the part in production for them. We can transfer it to them after it’s in production, or they might choose to do that in-house and we’ll supply the materials, or they’ll pay us a fee and we’ll ramp it up into production for them. We’ll do a number of different things for our clients to meet their quality production goals, cost targets, all those things. We have a good feel for what their design goals are.”
Constantly looking to innovate and improve its processes, Scott reports that the company just went through the largest capital expansion in its history – a $15 million renovation of a 110,669-square-foot facility in Painesville, Ohio. “The plant that we finished building and are now scaling up is, from a technology standpoint, the leading integrated composites compounding and molding facility in the world,” he states. “What we’re doing is very unique in how we compound our materials and also how we integrate them into our molding and fabrication operations.”
Going forward, Scott reveals that the company’s vision is “to be the premier solutions provider within the industry and, in particular, the industries which are core to us: the appliance industry, as well as the electrical, and capital equipment manufacturing business.” Its mission is to continue to develop and manufacture engineered composites that will create value for its customers. “We’re focused on innovation and new product development, as well as integrating within our customers’ operations,” he adds. “For example, in the appliance industry, we developed a line of polymers that you can metalize that look and feel like a metal product, so we’ve been able to adapt to the aesthetics in that particular industry.
“Then, we have key strategies and initiatives for each of our functional areas: operational excellence, which is manufacturing and engineering; grow and protect our core markets and customers, which is a sales and marketing function; great people, which is human resources; new growth areas, which are new products, industries, or customers; and we added what we call our custom compounding operation. So, we’ve got five key strategies to meet our goals, our mission, and our vision.”
“We’ve done very well in terms of innovating within our niche,” Scott says, in summation. “We have stayed focused on our materials and processes; we’ve stayed close to what customers see as our value proposition. Integrating ourselves within our customers’ businesses and providing value to them in a number of different areas is something that we do very well.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Mar-Bal, Inc.
WHAT: An industry leading integrated compounder and molder of BMC thermoset composite products and value added finishing services.
WHERE: Chagrin Falls, Ohio
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