MEP Helps Company Shape Up and Keep Moving
SANFORD, ME - It was mid 2000 and not a very good time for Shape Global Technology. The company had just been sold to a Belgium group that was taking the main product line and getting ready to jettison production equipment and laying off the remaining 80 or so people left in the company.
Enter Vincent Boragine who had recently joined the company as chief operating officer and chief financial officer. "I came in right after the company had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy," Boragine recalled. "No one had any interest in what was left of the company, and I thought that was wrong."
Boragine knew that at one time Shape had 11 locations and more than 3,000 employees. He also knew the Belgium group was leaving behind a lot of production equipment and had no interest in much of the company's product line. A manufacturer of custom plastics injection molding and value-added packaging, the company designs products, fabricates tooling and produces high volumes of plastic components used in a variety of multi-media and other information-technology markets both domestically and abroad.
"We were being left with all the necessary equipment to continue doing that job, a loyal customer base and employees who knew what they were doing," Boragine said. "We decided to buy what was left of the company and keep it going."
It was a great idea for Boragine and his partner, but there was one big problem. "We couldn't get any bank to even listen to us," Boragine said. "We had a nice package put together but no one was listening."
That's when Boragine turned to the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Maine MEP). "We took our problem to Maine MEP and a project manager suggested we hire a financial consultant to get our idea off the ground," Boragine said.
The MEP project manager put Boragine in touch with Coastal Enterprises Inc., which provides financial and technical assistance for development and expansion of industries, small businesses, housing and social services.
Boragine obtained a working capital loan guarantee through CEI and that made all the difference. Once the loan guarantee was in place, the banks started to pay attention to Boragine, and before he was through, he had three banks from which to choose.
"The truth is, our plan could not have succeeded without the help of the Maine MEP and the project manager assigned to us," Boragine said. "In fact, there were some weekends when this was all going on that I spoke to the project manager more than I did my wife."
"We took a lot of interest in the situation at Shape Global Technology because there were more than 60 manufacturing jobs that would be lost if the company closed completely," said Rod Rodrigue, president of the Maine MEP.
"That is a significant number of manufacturing jobs for Maine and we wanted to do everything possible to keep what was left of the original company going and keep those employees in place," he added.
Rodrigue said MEP project managers know the right contacts and where to turn in situations such as the one Boragine presented. "The MEP concentrates on helping small- and medium-sized companies throughout Maine," Rodrigue said. "It's our business to know who the players are and which ones can offer the help when it's needed the most."
Boragine echoed that sentiment. "MEP's help made a big difference," he said. "What we accomplished was not for the faint of heart, but MEP's project managers have been there every step of the way and have helped in many ways."
Most recently, an MEP project manager helped find new customers for the company right in Maine. "A medical company in Maine was looking outside the state for a toolmaker and molder," Boragine said, "but the project manager put the company in touch with us and we now have that business."
Since Boragine and his partner assumed ownership of Shape Global Technology they have rehired all 60 of the employees who used to work there, have moved to a building in Sanford and have reestablished contracts with several of the company's customers (Fuji, Maxell and 3-M, for instance).
"The banks all wanted us to change our name," Boragine said, "but I refused. This company had a 30-year history. Sure, it had some highs and low, and the business has changed, what with foreign competition, but I knew its reputation was strong.
"Things have worked out well for us and we are headed in the right direction," he added.
"The people at the Maine MEP can certainly share in our success, and I thank each and every one of them for taking the time it took and for caring about what happened to this company," Boragine said.
The Maine MEP is an affiliate of the NIST under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The national MEP is a network of manufacturing extension centers that provide business and technical assistance to smaller manufacturers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Through MEP, manufacturers have access to more than 2000 manufacturing and business "coaches" whose job is to help firms make changes that lead to greater productivity, increased profits, and enhanced global competitiveness. For more information on the Maine MEP program call 1-800-637-4634.