Bruin breaks the manufacturing mold

Evan Carlson keys in instructions on a Haas machine at Bruin Manufacturing on July 19.

Mass producing plastic moldings is all about quality and consistency.

It’s no wonder Bruin Manufacturing continues to be a pioneer in the industry. Quality and consistency are inborn for the plastic injection molding company.

Owner Sam Devick represents the third generation of his family to lead the company to new places. Bruin started in 1949 with his grandfather Clair and great-uncle Dale Devick. It was a general machine shop in its early phase, but quickly shifted to diecasting.

“Back in the ’50s, plastic started coming around,” Sam Devick said. “They thought, ‘We can ram hot metal into a mold. Why can’t we try this thing?’ They built their own machine and got into the plastic industry.”

By the 1980s, Bruin Manufacturing left diecasting behind and focused wholly on plastic.

From the beginning, the company has been ahead of the curve. It was an early adopter of automation.

“We were into lean and automation before there was such a terminology as lean,” Devick said. “Grandpa was very big into automating as much as he could. When people touch it, it costs more.”

This principle rings true today. Bruin has 58 machines in operation and 43 employees making sure it all goes off without a hitch.

Both the equipment and the human element have been in it for the long haul. Devick said there are machines still running from the 1960s, all with minimal maintenance. Likewise, there are employees who have been with Bruin for as many as 45 years.

“Generally, people don’t leave here too quickly,” he said.

The company has always been about family, which is why Devick makes it a point to know every person making its operation possible.

“We’re very much a family-oriented company,” he said. “We know everybody’s family by names. People like that. They don’t want to be considered just a number.”

Bruin is starting to see a transition period though. A new generation of employees have come on board in recent months.

“We have to try to get that tribal knowledge into that younger generation,” Devick said.

Along with the younger generation, new technology is also coming into play, making the manufacturing process quicker and more efficient. New machines like the Arburg machine Bruin installed in its lineup about a month ago are keeping the company cutting edge.

“We’re seeing better cycle times with the newer machines,” Devick said. “The quicker you can run parts the cheaper you can make them. It’s been quite a big help for us.”

For most of its history, Bruin largely relied on tools and equipment built in house. As technology has advanced, the company has started to move away from that. But it still has its own tool room to serve its many customers, which is rare in the industry today.

The quality of Bruin’s products is unquestioned. Perhaps what makes the company stand above its peers in the plastic industry is how strongly it stands by its products. It uses the highest quality steel and products anywhere, and any mold it sells comes with a lifetime warranty.

“If it breaks it’s on us. I’ve not heard of anyone else doing that,” Devick said.

Bruin Manufacturing has built a rich history in Marshalltown because it continues to be a forward-thinking company. The company is expanding its customer base to areas it hadn’t looked at in the past.

It is also expanding its capabilities with new equipment like a double injection machine. This will allow Bruin to do overmolding, which is where a single part is created with two or more different materials.

“I’m excited where that will take us in the future,” Devick said.

If Bruin Manufacturing’s history is any indication, it will continue to embrace the future.

Contact Joe Fisher at news@timesrepublican.com.


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