Custom-Made Molds and Machining
Triangle Tool Corporation
For over fifty years, Triangle Tool Corporation has exceeded the needs of its customers through the design and manufacture of high quality large scale molds and its custom machining businesses. With its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the company works with clients in a variety of industry sectors including appliances, consumer goods, industrial, oil & gas, and transportation.
Triangle Tool has the expertise, combined with the machines and technology to create large, complex injection and structural foam molds. They also build sheet molding compound (SMC), bulk molding compound (BMC) compression molds, and blow molds. All of this is combined with a custom machining business that maximizes the 60+ CNC machines at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin facility.
With over 18 acres and almost 250,000 square feet under roof, Triangle Tool has not been shy to expand the facility or add machines. Since 2008, they have added a minimum of 10,000 square feet per year with their largest expansion just completed in April and adding 15,000 square feet. “We have made it a point to keep our plant growth ahead of projected sales growth,” states Triangle Tool’s Vice President of Sales Daniel Gougé. “The partnerships that we build with our customers have given us great insights into when we need to add space, equipment, employees or all of the above.”
Triangle Tool has come a long way. When the company was founded in 1963, it was a five man shop that produced small molds for local companies. The current owner, Roy Luther, started working at Triangle Tool in 1968, where he ran the shop and grew the company to where it is today. Luther became the sole owner of Triangle Tool in 1981 and that is where the Triangle Tool started to focus on large mold manufacturing.
“Roy has been instrumental in making Triangle Tool what it is today,” said Gougé. “The amount of money that he reinvests into the company makes all of our jobs easier.” In 2013, Triangle Tool invested $6 million to expand and add a 4000 Mton co-injection molding machine from KraussMaffei for mold sampling. “It was a purchase that set us up as the North American toolbuilder with the largest onsite sampling capabilities. Shipping large molds is terribly expensive and one cost we can minimize for our customers. Along with that, co-injection is becoming a necessity for companies to compete because of the cost savings per part it brings,” Gougé stated.
The biggest change at Triangle Tool over the last decade came from the addition of their custom machining division. The mold business is notorious for its ups and downs and the added machining allows for Triangle to level out its throughput. With five axis machines that have travels greater than 40 feet, Triangle does work for the mining, oil & gas, and aerospace industries. “Our initial focus was simply to keep spindles turning, but after a few years we had impressed buyers with the quality and on time deliveries that are standard at Triangle,” Gougé said. “By 2010, we really had to make a decision if we wanted to keep machining as a supplement to our mold business or let it expand to where our customers wanted it to be.”
Triangle chose to expand the business. They received their ISO certification in 2012, and added equipment and personnel which was well timed for the oil and gas boom. “We started to buy equipment that was less multipurpose and more custom to the type of machining work we had,” said Gougé. “The machines we have been buying the last two years are capable of removing stock at twice the rate of machines that were bought pre 2012. It has made machining more of a material handling problem than it was before.”
Because of the success of the machining business, Triangle had some added benefits to the mold business. “By teaming up state of the art machines with the advances of cutting technology we were able to lower the amount of time cores and cavities are on machines,” Gougé said. “Our operations staff has been quick to get best practices implemented throughout our facility. It takes time and training, but in the long run, it is the right thing to do.”
With most of their customers coming from North America, Triangle Tool looks to leverage the horsepower and engineering contained at their facility to be a preferred supplier of large OEMs. “If you (OEM) have molding going on within your plant, Triangle is the ideal fit to be your moldbuilder,” Gougé stated. Triangle’s customers expect and get first class service throughout the entire moldbulding process. “Our customers know that our quoted price isn’t likely to be the lowest bid. Now, we are going to be competitive, but our mindset is that we are going to quote you and build you a tool that will function properly for the entirety of your program’s life. We’ve found that most to all of our competitors look to win work by quoting the cheapest tool possible. What value does that give to the customer other than make accounting happy and your operations staff apprehensive?” Gougé went on to say that the accountants never see the multiple, highly paid people it takes to troubleshoot a poorly designed or poorly crafted mold. “Our couple of percentage cost higher mold price will look deeply discounted once you add up the time to troubleshoot a troubled mold,” he explained.
“Our value proposition is simple. We are going to engineer you a solution that will be robust, using exotic materials if necessary, fully tested at our facility to ensure the best possible outcome once that mold is in your facility,” Gougé said. The advantages of having sampling machines, engineers and toolmakers at Triangle Tool is if there are issues during the sample, Triangle can have their team of professionals troubleshoot and correct the problem. It’s a win for the customer because troubleshooting time is decreased and there are no transportation costs involved.
Another advantage for large OEMs is the capacity that Triangle has. For example, if you need molds for all the plastic parts of a refrigerator assembly, Triangle has more than enough staff to engineer, build and sample all the tools required. The major benefits of single sourcing large programs at Triangle Tool is it allows one engineering house to make improvements to parts so information can quickly be changed on a mating part; with fewer people involved and reducing error(s), it limits the OEM’s travel for design reviews, progress visits and sampling. During the sampling process, all the parts are at one site so fit, form and function are easily ascertained, and corrected if needed.
Triangle Tool also values their employees through ongoing acknowledgement. Along with excellent health insurance and an annual Christmas party, employees receive a golden ring with a “TT” designed into it to recognize his or her fifth year of employment. At five-year intervals, four diamonds are set into the ring, and at the twenty-fifth year, four rubies become part of the finished ring.
“It’s a nice little recognition, and it ties people into the company. We’re a little bit old-school on that, and this is just another way we show appreciation,” stated Gougé. The company even provides employees with a trip anywhere in the world and an extra two weeks of vacation when they reach their twenty-year mark. “Its Roy’s way of saying ‘thank you’ for your hard work and dedication to Triangle.”
When asked about industry challenges, Gougé points to the next generation of skilled workers. “Finding people who want to enter manufacturing and that have the aptitude to become a skilled worker is by far the biggest challenge and I’m sure Triangle isn’t the only company in that position,” he said. “Too many young people, and people in general, have a negative view of manufacturing and manufacturers haven’t pushed back on that narrative.” He points out that the days of the dirty, grimy shop just aren’t reality anymore. “Years ago, you had oil all over the place and the smell of cutting oil in the air. Today, it’s a lot different. It’s more of a computer-driven business. Moldmaking will still be hands-on to a certain point, but it’s just not as dirty and it’s far more appealing than what it used to be.”
After being in business over fifty years, Triangle Tool Corporation is keenly aware of their strengths, and how those can be used to benefit customers. The company has plenty of room to grow, and plans on continuing to purchase new machinery to serve clients.
“The important thing to know about Triangle Tool is we do what we say,” states Vice President of Sales Daniel Gougé. “We want to make you successful. We are not here to build one tool or machine one job. That’s a waste of our time, and that’s the way we look at it. We are looking for partners in business, where all benefit. When you have commitments from both sides of the table, and there is a loyalty to make it work for the long term, both companies benefit. As partners we come up with creative solutions that will make both manufacturing environments more efficient.”