When Automatic Plastics Ltd opened its doors for business in 1972 in Tinahely Co. Wicklow Managing Director Al Lawless Snr knew that this was the culmination of almost ten years study and accumulated knowledge of the injection moulding industry.
Al had been in Canada closely studying four plastic companies – looking at their production processes and garnering the requisite acumen to start his own fledgling company. Plastics were a passion for Al. The companies he analysed were primarily concerned with producing grilles and dashboards for the automotive industry and parts for computers.
Al returned to Ireland and worked as a production manager for Krups Engineering in Limerick. Al, with all his knowledge of producing plastics, had very little marketing experience at this time. He addressed this deficit in his skill set when he worked for fifteen months in a sales team for a company specialising in raw materials for the plastics industry. In that role Al Snr built up a lot of useful contacts in the industry.
He knew and understood that success in the plastics industry was not going to be an overnight occurrence. Some less successful endeavours ultimately failed because some entrepreneurs had marketing savvy but little understanding of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the complex production processes and the pitfalls involved with creating quality injection moulding products.
Delivering to customers expectations is crucial for longevity in the plastics sector. This requires good judgement, experience and knowledge. Injection moulding requires a degree of perfection and one badly produced moulded part could slow down productivity enormously and at a significant cost in terms of lost production. While software tools and good planning can help to establish what a machines output will be for a particular piece – real-life, hands-on experience informs this planning in a practical, useful way that other inputs just cannot match.
Originally Al had applied for an IDA equipment grants to purchase machinery and the Small Industries Division proposed him to open a plant at Baltinglass. However there were no suitable premises in Baltinglass so the IDA then suggested an alternative location, in Tinahely Co. Wicklow. Al found a suitable 3000 square foot premises which was previously a wool stores. With hard work, dedication and product knowledge the company grew steadily over the last forty years to become the thriving manufacturing plant that it is today.
Not long after opening his doors Al had negotiated contracts with enough Irish businesses to require two 8-hours shifts. APL Ltd, as a company, likes to support the local community inTinahely. Today there are over 100 people employed at Automatic Plastics Ltd, the vast majority are from the local Tinahely area. The highly skilled and trained staff work over three separate 8 hour shifts every day in a plant that is equipped with the most up-to-date robots and tool machines, tool room and stores.
Al jnr. has grown up in the company holding summers jobs and working there since his days as a student studying for a Manufacturing Engineering Degree at D.I.T Bolton Street. In 1997 Al joined APL as a manufacturing engineer and not long after he became the engineering manager at the plant. In 2006 he took his father’s place as Managing Director.
Al works with a close-knit management team of industry experts including General Manager Kevin Fitzgerald, Accounts Manager Mary Nolan, Materials Manager Paula Denton and Pat Kavanagh, who is the Quality Assurance Manager. It is this team of highly skilled and capable individuals that work exceptionally hard in order to ensure that APL Ltd. enjoys continued success and longevity as a successful and dynamic injection moulding company.
Al Jnr. ,like his father, understands that high quality production and delivering customer satisfaction are values that will ensure that APL is at the very forefront when it comes to delivering quality injection moulding products.
If you are a potential buyer and would like to visit our facilities, simply call us on 00 353 402 38231 to make an appointment – we look forward to talking with you.