Lakeland Mold Company makes the mold that makes plastic products and LINDAR Corp. uses molds to make the plastic products.
The two manufacturing companies in the Brainerd lakes area are similar — but are not competitors and are two separate entities owned by the same persons — Tom and Ellen Haglin of Baxter. The Haglins, who purchased Lakeland Mold in March from Pat Schulist who was retiring, said the two businesses will not be merged.
“We purchased Lakeland Mold because of its reputation in North America,” said Tom Haglin. “The company is the world leader in the manufacturing of cast and CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) aluminum tooling for the rotational molding industry.
“We also purchased it to protect the community’s interest,” said Haglin. “It’s a good company with good-paying jobs and we wanted to keep these jobs in this area.”
Haglin said the two companies complement each other, as Lakeland Mold and LINDAR specialize in producing plastic containers and custom plastic parts. The companies have some of the same customers.
Haglin said there may be some job sharing between the two manufacturing companies and they may partner up on pattern products, otherwise the two companies will each run on their own.
“We have a good team here at Lakeland and they have the experience, as well as LINDAR,” said Haglin. “And this will only make us stronger and better in all areas.“
Haglin said the companies will train their employees together when it makes sense and owning both companies will give him buying power to help purchase more items at a reduced rate.
Lakeland Mold, a state-of-the art, 50,000-square-foot facility located in the Brainerd Industrial Park, was founded in 1988. The company has 76 employees. Lakeland produces cast and CNC cut aluminum tooling, molds using computers and automated machine tools to make more intricate molds. The cast aluminum tools are described as large molds used by rotational mold companies in the creation of products like kayaks, school desks, gas tanks and coolers.
LINDAR, which is in the Baxter Industrial Park and founded in 1993, is a leader in plastic thermoforming. The company has 90 employees. It produces plastic containers such as those used for paint and food and other retail options, medical parts and packaging, along with making custom industrial original equipment manufacturer components.
Haglin said his goal at Lakeland Mold is for it to grow. He said the company has been on a hold pattern for five years because of the recession and since it was in the position to sell. Haglin said in the first six to 12 months of his purchase of the company, he wants to focus on capital investments, facility needs and development. He said new technology will be added to invest in the company that will allow it to grow and for them to get into a larger market share.
“Lakeland Mold is a good solid company and has good growth opportunities,” said Haglin. “We’re a small rotational molding company and have 20 percent of the market share in North America. I want to expand our international business.”
Haglin said Lakeland Mold does have some international sales, like in Brazil, but he’d like to expand it out to more countries. Haglin said some of the company’s larger customers are John Deere, Old Town Canoe Co., Donaldson, Toro, Nilfisk and Igloo.
Haglin, who is still learning about the company, said John Newhouse, president of Lakeland Mold, will be retiring next year.
Stephen Lackner, Lakeland Mold human resource manager, said the company created about 60 molds per month or about 700 molds a year. Lackner said the company used to create in excess of $1.2 million worth of kayak molds a year, but doesn’t do as many anymore as more companies are making the molds. However, plans are underway to gain this portion of the business back and even more.
Lackner said the company recycles up to 90 percent of its sand blocks and other materials.
Lackner said there are 20-30 jobs going on at the same time. There are three shifts. The first shift runs from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and the second shift runs from 2 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday. There is a weekend shift that runs from noon to midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“The weekend shift keeps the jobs moving,” said Lackner. “We normally have six guys on the weekend shift.”
The main manufacturing departments at Lakeland are engineering, pattern, foundry, finishing, machining and CNC.
Lackner said safety is important at the plant and they’ve gone more than 400 days without a work loss injury.
Lackner said, and Haglin agrees that Lakeland Mold’s mission is to continuously strive to build a culture which focuses on their customers’ success, and in so doing they must continue to provide them with a competitive edge in their respective marketplaces.