Ceramics Manufacturer Expands Customer Base with New Facility
International Ceramic Engineering (ICE) recently added a new satellite manufacturing facility in Morrisville, N.C., which will augment its main facility in Worcester, Massachusetts.
The new 9,000 square foot facility accommodates R&D capabilities, prototype through production manufacturing, engineering services, and a clean room. The Research Triangle Park region is quickly growing with an influx of high-tech industries that could provide a solid customer base for ICE.
"It's a hot bed for high-tech industries and that's basically the target market for us," said ICE President Jay Higgins, who noted that the semiconductor and oil and gas industries are the company's main customers.
Higgins explained that the company had outgrown its Worcester location and couldn't move its kiln to a bigger facility. So Higgins decided to open an entire new plant in North Carolina because one of its biggest customers is located in the area and the addition will broaden the company's East Coast customer base.
The region is a "growth area," Higgins said, explaining that the new expansion added 40 percent capacity and that he plans on hiring ten to 20 workers for the North Carolina plant.
Founded in 1980, ICE (www.intlceramics.com) provides engineering and manufacturing of high-performance ceramic and plastic materials. The company specializes in green machining and post fire grinding to produce custom components to exacting tolerances.
"We are able to green machine and keep close tabs on our shrinkage rates. We can get very close to the final dimensions or even hit the final dimensions, which reduce the amount of hard grinding that has to be done after firing," Higgins said. "If you don't have to machine the parts after they come out of the kiln, that reduces the cost pretty dramatically."
Higgins noted that some of his employees have tried having parts manufactured overseas but ran into problems with time and quality.
"The quality of workmanship in our particular industry is superior in the United States [versus] in China. We're a niche market. We make sophisticated parts for high-tech companies."
An advantage that ICE's new domestic manufacturing facility offers to customers is that they're able to help in the design of products and focus in on ways to cut costs.
"We can get a product to a customer in a couple of hours rather than taking a slow boat from China. And we're very responsive in the customer service area, so we can respond to needs very quickly with quotes," Higgins said.
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