NEWS
D.J. Danko (left), president Quality Mould Inc. in Unity, talks to Secretary Dennis Davin of the Department of Community and Economic Development while giving a tour of the factory on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016
Success Story
Brian Gray of Latrobe runs five machining stations at once during the second shift at Quality Mould. 
 
“I am the second shift,” said Gray, one of 26 employees at the Unity company that has expanded its facility and its workforce with the help of a low-interest loan approved through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. 
 
Gray switched to the day shift Friday as Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, visited the 33,000-square-foot plant during a Jobs that Pay tour. 
 
President D.J. Danko of Ligonier said the $190,000 loan was a key part of a $1.6 million financing package that allowed Quality Mould to purchase and renovate the vacant plant on Arnold Palmer Drive and move from the cramped 12,000 square feet it had occupied at the Latrobe Industrial Park. The loan, made to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Corp. on behalf of the firm, carries a term of 15 years and an interest rate of 3.75 percent. 
 
There was a growing demand for Quality Mould's products, including 12-foot aluminum rods that are used in large electrical breakers. But, at the previous site, Danko said, “My customers didn't think I had the capacity to take on more orders.” 
 
Danko explained the move to a larger space has allowed him to streamline a number of the company's procedures. He now employs a separate staff to preprogram automated stations in the machining department so that machine operators can seamlessly oversee several tasks. 
 
The move also allowed the company to add three employees to its staff, and Danko said plans are to hire more as Quality Mould looks to increase its business by producing plastic trays hospitals and pharmaceutical companies use for organizing pills. 
 
The company has increased its annual business to $4 million and could double that number through the pharmaceutical-related product line, Danko said. The jobs the company has preserved or added through the expansion come with pay at the high end of the industry range, beginning at $14 per hour. 
 
The state loan program is meant to support growth of just such skilled, good-paying jobs, Devin said. 
 
“We're trying to promote companies that are doing things for their employees,” he said, noting that Quality Mould has instituted a four-day, 10-hour work week and the new plant “provides a better environment for their employees.” 
 
Devin said the company is “growing, but they're doing it in the right way. They're diversifying what they can do. This shows how we're going to bring jobs back to Pennsylvania.” 
 
The company produces moulds that its customers use to create a variety of items, including glass foot baths and bathroom sinks. Danko said it also is testing a glass bottle mold for an iced coffee using stronger metal alloys that should give the mold a much longer life in the production process. 
 
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622 or jhimler@tribweb.com.
Lean Techniques
Quality Mould, Inc. manufactures a wide variety of products out of traditional and modern materials in Westmoreland County. They were seeking to expand into new customer markets which would require larger manufacturing facilities and additional machinery and equipment to accommodate this goal. Catalyst Connection’s Eric MacDonald facilitated a session with Quality Mould management and staff to document the process flow for the new 33,000 square foot Eastpointe facility. They used lean techniques to maximize the value-added flow of materials and to minimize travel distances. Customized training and coaching was delivered to the staff to provide a solid foundation in basic lean principles and 5S, including hands-on experience with a focus on improving visual controls across the facility.

"Catalyst Connection helped us completely re-think and re-arrange our manufacturing process. Since learning lean manufacturing techniques, we streamlined all of our equipment, avoided costly mistakes, and are well-prepared to launch efforts to new markets. We are very pleased to have Catalyst be part of our manufacturing processes." 
 
DJ Danko 
President, Quality Mould, Inc.
Quality Mould Inc. President D.J. Danko photographed at the machining building at their facility in Latrobe on Monday June 16, 2014. The Latrobe based company recently won a Governor's ImPAct Award for Entrepreneurship this year.
Manufacturing Comeback
Quality Mould took a major hit when light bulb manufacturers such as General Electric went overseas for glass molds. 
 
“We're one of the last glass mold manufacturers in the country. All of our competitors went out of business, and we've just gone into other avenues,” Danko said. “Three years ago, GE shut down one of their plants. That was a million dollars a year we lost. That was a third of our business.” 
 
In response, Quality Mould diversified to tackle more machining work and expanded from the glass industry to work with power generation companies, oil and gas producers and the military. 
 
“We basically haven't had to lay anybody off or let people go. We've kept the current employees, and we're looking at growing the company,” Danko said. “We'll have a chance to grow, and a couple big contracts with some power generation companies we're working on. We've really got a good potential to grow the business in those areas.” 
 
The similarities between mold making and machining eased the transition for Quality Mould. 
 
“The word's always been that it's easy to make a mold maker a machinist; it's harder to take a machinist and make him a mold maker,” Danko said. “There's a lot more skills and different things (with mold making) than machining. You can see a lot of the design and the detail. 
 
“We go after the more complex parts. We have five-axis machines. There are mill lathes combined that do the part in one setup, as opposed to taking it from the lathe and putting it in the mill to put the holes in it.” 
 
The company, which employs 25 and has a 25,000-square-foot manufacturing area, machines armor kits for military vehicles and parts for electrical breakers. 
 
It is working on a method for refurbishing parts used by natural gas drilling companies in the hydraulic fracturing process. 
 
Quality Mould still pulls in glass mold projects, including the production of molds used to form a chandelier in the United Nations building in New York City and molds used by JSG Oceana of Jeannette to produce glass bowls for kitchen and bathroom sinks. 
 
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or greinbold@tribweb.com.
Diversity after customers move overseas
In September 2011, The Pittsburgh Business Times featured QMI in an article about diversifying business strategies. This article discusses the tribulations we have faced with overseas competition and what we have done to overcome these issues.
Featured in CUTTING TOOL ENGINEERING
In the February 2011 edition of Cutting Tool Engineering, Quality Mould was featured in an article titled "Turning Vertical", by Bill Kennedy. It addresses the features and andvantages of using a vertical lathe verses a traditional horizontal lathe.

To view the full article, click on the following link.

http://files.ctemag.com/February2011.pdf
In the April 2009 edition of Cutting Tool Engineering, QMI was featured in the cover story on glass making and the process from start to finish. We were especially honored to be involved in this article given our history in the industry. Our company's roots began in the early 1980's when we were founded as a mold shop for glass production. Throughout the article many of our employees and products are referenced.

To read the full article, click on the following link.

http://files.ctemag.com/April2009.pdf
In the October 2008 edition of Cutting Tool Engineering, Quality Mould was featured in an article titled "Military Strategies", by Bill Kennedy. It focused on military contracts and the process of securing work with the government. As a growing company we have expanded into this are and have found many opportunities as second and third tier suppliers.