Injection molding services
Murdock came out of a short-lived retirement when he bought Technology Design in 2007. "I was actually retired once, living in Wyoming, building a log home on the Wind River," he says. "2007 was not a good year for stocks and real estate, and I happened to be invested in both. My retirement went down the drain and I thought, 'I've got to do something.'"
Murdock, whose background was in automotive collision repair, found Technology Design online. "It intrigued me. It was something I never, ever considered doing, but product development was a fascination for me. The idea of helping people create products and helping them design products was just a fascinating thought."
He moved the company, then based in Springville, Utah, to Vineyard in 2017. Technology Design now occupies 13,000 square feet. "For the same amount of money, we got a lot better property," says Murdock of the move. "In Vineyard here, we're more central and closer to the freeway. It's just a better facility, all the way around."
Another Technology Design client, Audio Enhancement makes communication tools for hearing-impaired students. "All across the country, these are going in all the classrooms," says Murdock. "We build the plastic components, then they have electrical components that go inside of it."
Annual order volumes usually range from 500 parts into the many thousands. "Some molds never come out of the machines -- they're running for months," says Murdock.
With eight injection machines that range up to 500 tons of pressure, Technology Design specializes in medium-sized parts up to about three pounds.
That makes for a Goldilocks-style sweet spot in the market. "I don't very often compete with local competitors," says Murdock. "When I get a brand-new customer who comes and wants us to help them design and develop their product, sometimes I get them developed, but I can't actually manufacture for them, so I have to refer them to my competitor based on the size of the machine."
The biggest competition is actually overseas. "I'm actually competing with China more than I am with local people," says Murdock. "There are some areas we do very well against China -- for example, a larger part that's bulky. It's going to cost to ship it, like a grocery basket," says Murdock. "If it's a lot of labor, a lot of intensive labor like painting after molding, we don't do quite as well because of our labor rates here versus China."
Technology Design also can deliver quickly when demand spikes: The company's typical turnaround time of about a week easily beats the multi-month norm from China. "If your sales are all over the charts, it's hard to forecast and place orders accordingly," says Murdock.
Murdock says design for manufacturability is one of the company's differentiators. "You know how police have sketch artists? Well, we kind of do the same thing. . . . We use SolidWorks. We sit down at the computer and sketch out the parts, and then we design their product based on that, to make it moldable."
It's not uncommon for parts designed by engineers to miss a basic tenet of injection molding, he adds. "The mold has to open and something has to slide out of it, so we have to design the part to make it be able to slide out of the mold."
Technology Design lost several customers to Chinese manufacturers immediately after Murdock bought the business, but the company has since bounced back. "I've had to rebuild," says Murdock. "We've built it back to where it was with about a fifth of the employees. We've made it a lot more efficient. Part of the reason I can compete with China is we're just an efficient, lean operation. All of our employees are pretty much cross-trained on everything."
Challenges: Supply chain. Technology Design uses mold-makers based in China, and the company had some issues with delivery early in the COVID-19 pandemic. "Truckers have had a hard time catching up since COVID," says Murdock. "It's getting stuff shipped right now."
Opportunities: Murdock projects continued growth with local customers manufacturing consumer products and medical devices, noting, "We do a little bit out-of-state, but I would say 95 percent of it I can deliver myself."
Needs: "A little bit of machinery, not a lot," says Murdock.