Community caring

Garner Industries believes in good business and citizenship. It starts at home where employees volunteer for Adopt-a-Highway cleanups on 3 miles of Nebraska Highway 6. Garner holds membership in EPA Green Power Partnership and sources 100 percent of its power from renewable sources of energy. Garner Industries donates or volunteers throughout the area supporting the People’s City Mission, United Way, Nebraska Wesleyan University, and agriculture education programs at Nebraska and Iowa State University.

Employee culture strong at Garner Industries

About 30 percent of life is spent working. For Garner Industries, that’s a responsibility and a mission. Garner Industries is a jewel of “Made in the USA” manufacturers. Garner’s “essential” role was crystalized during the pandemic which exasperated problems sourcing manufactured parts. Since 1953, the Garner team manufactured metal and plastic into everything from high-tech radar sensors to healthcare products. The work is meaningful. Here, caring for our team counts. Garner employees get great pay and benefits as well as family scholarships, professional development, and yearlong health activities like wellness walks, onsite flu shots, expert speakers, and more. Garner’s beautiful campus includes a private lake, employee common areas, and an ultra-clean, climate-controlled production facility.

Kunkle named VP job shop sales

Growing up on a farm in rural Ceresco, Neb., John Kunkle has made a major impact on the manufacturing industry through Garner Industries in Lincoln, Neb. Kunkle was recently promoted to vice president of job shop sales.

“Garner has an edge with plastics and machining manufacturing,” Kunkle said. “We’re big enough to change our system, to invest in new machinery…automate processes. We do it all the time. But we’re small enough to meet customers one-on-one and really listen.”

Kunkle walked a unique career path. He moved from a farm to a tool and die shop where he developed machining skills and knowledge. Kunkle helped to introduce a new wire EDM machine as well as new CNC machines essentially converting a major plant from manual to automated manufacturing. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, then joined the Garner Industries team at the height of the cell phone revolution in 1995.

“Cell phone technology was changing quickly, and I was brought in to leverage our capabilities with tooling, plastics, and machining,” he said. “In this business, it’s healthy to diversify capabilities.”

While cell phone antennas became obsolete, Garner Industries boosted business both domestically and internationally, thanks to Kunkle’s efforts, with everything from high-quantity plastic injection molding to intricate prototyping combining CNC, molding, and assembly capabilities.

Eventually, Kunkle moved to Vietnam to manage strategic partnerships with manufacturers. He lived there for three years teaching Vietnamese manufacturers how to combine manufacturing expertise with quality standards, processes, and paperwork required in the U.S.

These relationships are paying big dividends considering supply chain problems and pricing pressure from tariffs. Garner Industries can now bid better pricing with tooling made in Vietnam coupled with high-tech CNC and plastic presses at its Nebraska headquarters.

While in Vietnam, Kunkle met his wife, Phuong. They were married in 2019 and have a daughter, Ha. The family enjoys travel and fishing streams in the Canadian wilderness.

About Garner

Founded in 1953, Garner Industries specializes in plastic injection molding of small to medium-sized parts, short-to-medium run precision machining of metals and plastics, custom-tool building and wire EDM services. The company is also manufacturer of the BinMaster line of level measurement sensors, material management, and data monitoring systems for bins, tanks and silos sold internationally.

Garner Commits to Green Power

Garner Industries has joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. Participation in the program shows the company’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and the risk of climate change by using green power.

The company is purchasing 100% of its electricity utilizing Renewable Energy Certificates – also known as RECs – ensuring that energy generated on the company’s behalf comes from renewable resources. Garner has purchased RECs from Lincoln Electric System (LES) to supply 4,500,000 kilowatt hours of green energy for its plant over the next year.

Garner’s “Green Power Partnership” is nationally recognized by the EPA. Participants in the partnership commit to a minimum use annually of green power from their facilities. Since 2001, the EPA Green Power Partnership has helped build the green power industry in America. The more than 800 partners in this program represent almost 40 percent of the US voluntary green power market.

Garner makes every effort to reduce waste and recycle throughout its 115,000 square foot plant. Scrap metal from the CNC machining operations is collected and remelted by recyclers. Waste plastic and sprues from plastic injection molding operations are reground or recycled.

Paper, cardboard, aluminum, and plastic recycling stations are situated throughout the office and plant. Each spring Garner employees clean up a 2-mile stretch of local highway each year to keep the local community clean.

The early stages of transitioning to Green Power is yet another effort manufacturers are taking to participate in managing the country’s individual health hazards and environmental risks.

Garner Industries values utilization of sustainable energy and believes that focusing on improving energy efficiency combined with sourcing power from renewable projects is the best overall strategy to reduce its carbon footprint.

Garner Industries Installs New Toyo Plastic Injection Molding Machine

Garner Industries has added yet another state-of-the art plastic injection molding to its arsenal of 26 presses for a total of two new presses in 2020. The new Toyo 400 S-6 plastic injection molding machine provides Garner customers many benefits due to its advanced technology. Its high-speed, high response control system minimizes setup times and optimizes run times that translate into highly consistent production for short to long runs of parts.   

This 400-ton press constantly monitors quality and provides operator feedback. This enhanced functionality allows for improved mold protection and operator-supporting functions such as mold condition analysis, to ensure the long-term integrity of Garner’s customers’ tooling investments. The Toyo 400 S-6 is highly energy efficient and eco-friendly, supporting Garner’s commitment to preserving the environment.

The high-precision machine features an advanced mold-clamping mechanism that provides injection stability that results in a superior final product. To produce high quality parts with tight tolerances, the Toyo S-6 has an injection unit offering standard, high-speed, high-pressure and super high-pressure options. The compact design of the press also contributes to the efficient utilization of Garner’s factory floor space.

Scott McLain, CEO of Garner Industries comments on this new equipment for Garner “We have been busy with new molding and tooling projects and have several new contracts coming to fruition. We are excited to add this brand new 400-ton Toyo molding machine as we continually upgrade and replace equipment in our plant. The all new electric press is sure to help exceed Garner customer expectations and ensure the production of parts that meet the highest quality standards.” 

Garner Industries Named Visionary Partner

by Nia Nielsen —

Garner Industries named Visionary Partner following the company’s $10,000 gift to the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. Garner, a manufacturing company located in Lincoln, Nebraska, joins the ranks of Ameritas, Assurity, Capital One and others with this contribution.

“Garner Industries is committed to the local Lincoln community and the education of our citizens. As a small business, Garner is reliant on a talented and educated local work force for all aspects of our business management and manufacturing production,” stated Scott McLain, CEO of Garner Industries. “Supporting the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools and their mission will help students and our company meet their best potential.”

As a corporate partner, Garner Industries will aid the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools, helping to ensure that all students have access to additional opportunities beyond what is provided through tax dollars, so that all students reach their full potential. 

“No two kids are alike; they all need access to different opportunities in their formative years to be successful as adults,” Wendy DeLaCastro president of the Foundation stated. “At the Foundation we like to say we have more than 42,000 mission statements, one for each student at LPS. To do our work we raise funds to lift up students and remove barriers to learning so they come to the classroom ready to learn, as well as, fund experiences that challenge students and grow their minds. Garner’s gift helps us do all that.”

To make a gift like the one Garner Industries has provided or to partner on a specific project call 402.436.1612 for more details.

Randy Feese Appointed Vice President of Operations for Garner Industries

Randy Feese has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Operations for Garner Industries. This promotion is in recognition of Randy’s contributions since assuming the position of plant manager for Garner in October of 2018.

Under Randy’s guidance Garner has continued to make operational improvements that have increased plant efficiency. Despite supply chain challenges and demands on the company to supply products to essential industries over the past year, Randy was able to lead efforts that improved plant-wide on-time delivery, optimized production processes, and reduced cycle times in the molding operation.

Wire EDM capabilities were also upgraded under Randy’s supervision with the 2020 addition of a new Charmilles CNC wire EDM machine with fully submerged five-axis machining for customers needing precision-cut custom metal parts. Mold tooling services have been expanded to accommodate the advanced tooling needs of new customers with offshore tooling managed by a Garner employee in Asia.

Even before joining Garner in 2016, Randy had extensive experience directing complex plastics manufacturing operations and managing quality-certified operations. Prior to working for Garner, Randy spent 15 years as plant manager for Opus Medication Systems in Omaha, Nebraska. His professional experience also includes six years at the global corporation Accuma, as plant manager of their Beatrice, Nebraska operation.

Randy joined Garner in March 2016 as project engineer to manage the design and installation of a large and complex injection molding work cell that incorporated three 500-ton presses, an automated gasketing operation, extensive use of robotics, the installation of three resin silos, and a pneumatic conveying system. Then in 2017, Randy was charged with supervising Garner’s 40,000 square-foot facility expansion and the relocation of the work cell he completed the previous year.

Randy remains responsible for all Garner’s plant manufacturing operations, including plastics molding, CNC, tooling, maintenance, safety, facilities, jobshop customer service, and supply chain management. Additionally, he oversees the manufacturing operation of the global BinMaster level sensor product line.

Custom Manufacturer Leverages Experience to Make Better Parts

By Mark Shortt — Design-2-Part Magazine —

View PDF

Given Garner Industries’ history of retaining key employees, it’s not surprising that John Kunkle, the firm’s sales manager, calls Garner’s “duration and depth of experience” one of the company’s most important strengths.

Garner Industries established in 1953, is a veteran-owned machine shop and custom parts manufacturer that specializes in plastic injection molding and precision CNC machining of metals and plastics. Several of Garner’s managers—in roles from senior management to engineering, injection molding processing, and sales—have been with the company for 20 to 30 years, according to Kunkle.

“Our staff not only knows how to make a part, but how to make it better,” Kunkle said in an emailed response. “We don’t just blindly quote a part from a print—we work with the customer to define what is needed. We offer suggestions to improve the part or reduce cost, offer material options if possible, and verify tolerances and expectations before starting the project.”

As a provider of machine shop services, Garner employs CNC milling and turning to produce parts from common metals—such as steel,  aluminum, brass, and stainless steel—and from exotic alloys, like Inconel and Hastelloy. The company also machines a wide range of plastics, including PTFE, PEEK™, and Ultem®. To complement these machining capabilities, Garner offers custom tool building and wire EDM (electrical discharge machining) services in-house.

Among the wide variety of parts produced by Garner are CNC machined and injection molded components used in motors, actuators, and valves for aerospace and aviation customers. The company makes high-pressure CNC machined housings, submersible pump components, and molded connectors for the oil and gas industry. Garner also manufactures machined and molded components for government and defense prime contractors and subcontractors, as well as injection molded components, antennas, battery cases, and housings for the telecommunications industry.

The company recently built a 40,000-square-foot addition to house three new 500-ton injection molding presses, a robotic foam-in-place gasketing cell, and expanded warehousing capabilities. Today, Garner runs three shifts at its 115,000-square-foot facility in Lincoln, Nebraska, employing 140 people, Kunkle said.

The collective experience of Garner’s managerial staff is invaluable to customers in a number of ways. For one, it enables Garner to provide consultation and expertise—in manufacturing capabilities, material selection, and tool design—to assist customers in making educated decisions about critical components.

For injection molding projects, Garner’s team talks with customers about the tooling that will support their requirements most effectively—tooling that’s built domestically, or tooling that’s built offshore. They work with customers to “offer the best solution for cavity count to balance their tooling cost versus part cost,” Kunkle said. And while developing a customer’s mold design, Garner can provide Moldflow analysis “at no extra cost to define best gate location and identify areas that are susceptible to warp or shrinkage before completing the mold design,” he explained.

“Next, we will submit a DFM (design for manufacturing) report to the customer to outline gating, ejection, and parting line split, as well as requirements for slides, lifters, and any other concerns with the part design or tool design. Once the customer approves the report, we will complete the mold layout for the customer to review and approve, as desired,” Kunkle said.

Garner’s injection molding presses range in clamping force from 35 to 500 tons, enabling the firm to mold small, medium-size, and large components. The firm’s injection molding experience also includes manufacturing hydraulic and pneumatic seals for the agriculture industry; components for PPE, ventilators, and respirators for the medical industry; shunts for the electronics industry; and commercial and industrial air filter components for the transportation sector. Garner also makes injection molded and machined archery components for the sporting goods industry, Kunkle said.

The company’s quality assurance laboratory is staffed on all three daily shifts. The lab is equipped with three coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), including a programmable Zeiss and a Sprint with dual vision and CMM capabilities.

“We are dedicated to quality and are certified to ISO 9001 quality-management system requirements,” Kunkle said. “Injection molding tolerances are always variable, depending on the material being molded and the size of the dimension being molded. Some fine details can be held to +/-0.001 inch, but tolerances in that range need to be specifically discussed during the project review process.”

Garner’s quality management system is ISO 9001:2015 certified for precision CNC machining, tooling, and plastics injection molding. Its quality certification also applies to software and the design and manufacture of level controls and sensors, according to the firm’s registration certificate.

Where We Will Be

Pin in calendar with caption "upcoming events"

Meet with Garner Industries experts at the following events and learn about our capabilities for plastic injection modling, CNC machining, mold tooling and more! Registration for these events is free. Can’t stop by, contact us for a personal consultation.

Design 2 Part Show
June 9 – 10, 2021
Gaylord Texan Convention Center
Grapevine, Texas

Design2 Part Show
August 4 – 5, 2021
Schaumburg Convention Center
Schaumburg, Illinois

NOCOM Manufacturing Trade Show
Sept 23, 2021
The Ranch at Larimer County Fairgrounds
Loveland, Colorado

Wichita Industrial Trade Show
Oct 26 – 28, 2021
Century II Expo Hall
Wichita, Kansas


Garner flies high with specialized molding operations

workers on the Garner plant floor

By Ron Shinn – Plastics Machinery Magazine, November 2019

View as PDF

LINCOLN, NEB.-BASED Garner Industries is in the heart of the Great Plains, but some of its products are out of this world. Known for its line of BinMaster inventory-monitoring systems for silos and tanks, it was first a metal machining shop and later a custom injection molder. Today, it has blended those three spheres into an operation that offers unique advantages, particularly for parts with metal and plastic components.

“We have a lot of customers with plastic parts that need subsequent machining,” said John Kunkle, Garner’s sales manager. “We do a lot of military, aerospace and defense parts, some fairly high-end, that we injection mold and then machine the final details because of the required tolerances.

“The fact that we can do all that under one roof makes us more competitive, and it maintains confidentiality for our military and aerospace customers,” he said.

Garner manufactures parts for 70 percent of the world’s satellites, all of the now-retired space shuttles and many ballistic missile systems, Kunkle said.

Garner has 28 injection molding machines with clamping forces ranging from 35 tons to 500 tons. It specializes in small to medium-sized plastic parts and short- to medium-run precision machining of metals and plastics.

A good amount of the company’s injection molding is insert molding, overmolding and other difficult processes, such as making optical-quality plastics.

Garner can machine a metal component and then insert mold it into a part. “It sets us apart from our competitors,” Kunkle said.

“We have learned a lot about how to do it,” Kunkle said. “It is more than just making a plastic part, then slapping it in the mold and molding over it. There are a lot of things with injection pressures, supporting the first shot, things like that that we have learned. And there are ways we have been able to reduce some cycle times, which also makes us more competitive.”

Garner Industries is privately owned and does not publish annual sales figures, but says that about 50 percent of revenue comes from BinMaster products, 40 percent from custom injection molding and the rest from machining.

About 10 percent of Garner’s molding business is for BinMaster products.

Molding machines exclusively from Niigata were Garner’s mainstay for many years, but, in 2015, the company started switching to all-electric Toyo Si series presses. It now has three 500-ton Toyo presses, three 300 tonners and two 150 tonners. The 20 older Niigatas have clamping forces ranging from 35 tons to 385 tons.

The switch to Japanese-made Toyo molding machines started after Garner hired a molding department manager who had worked for a multi-national pharmaceutical molder that used Toyo presses. That company had already completed a side-by-side benchmarking test of several press brands, so Garner benefitted from what it had learned.

“We liked the Toyos because they developed higher injection pressures,” Kunkle said. “We can get bigger platens in the same press tonnage rangethan with other brands. As a custom molder, a bigger envelope is always attractive.”

Kunkle said Toyo provides great technical support and spare parts availability through its distributor, Maruka USA Inc., which is less than a four-hour drive from Lincoln in Lee’s Summit, Mo. “All these things were important in helping us move to Toyos,” Kunkle said. “We have been very happy with the machines and support.”

Other factors Kunkle said Garner technicians have come to appreciate are the resolution of the screen of the Toyo control system and the amount of data available when adjusting the press. “The process capability is better,” he said.

Garner’s most recent press acquisitions were three 500-ton Toyos for a new project, a part that is 24 inches in diameter. Despite satisfaction with the Toyo presses it had already acquired, Garner tested a mold on four different brands of machines.

“Most of the machinery suppliers said we need at least an 800-ton to 1,000-ton press for a part that big,” Kunkle said. The test found that it could run on a 500-ton Toyo.

Kunkle said he thinks the confidence Garner has in its Toyo presses is a competitive advantage, as well.

Kunkle said that Garner’s molding department manager has complete faith in Toyo’s mold-protection system to prevent damage to the mold. “He’s very confident in that, and he has instilled confidence in the technicians.”

“He knows he has a lot better capability for ejecting on the fly. There are a lot of good machines out there, but, if you are confident in something, the mindset is already there that you are going to be able to do well with that machine. If you have confidence in your equipment, you are more likely to push your equipment,” Kunkle said.

Nine of Garner’s older Niigata presses are more than 20 years old. “Most of the machinery we have bought has been for additional capacity,” Kunkle said.

“Our older electric machines are still running because it is difficult to justify replacing them when they are functioning well and still producing good parts,” he said. Garner has purchased only electric molding machines since 2003.

On the plant floor, Garner groups presses by size — 18 presses with clamping forces up to 300 tons, seven with 300 to 400 tons of force and three 500-ton machines — in a new 40,000 square-foot addition built to accommodate recent expansion.

The company has a two-station, vertical 35-ton Niigata press that is more than 20 years old. Garner uses it to manufacture about 1.5 million cranks with attached worm gears per year.

Space is available for additional molding machines.

The company has three outdoor resin silos that each have 100,000 pounds of capacity and two surge bins indoors that hold 3,000 gallons each. They are equipped with BinMaster’s continuous level sensors that let Garner, as well as its customers, view inventory levels. Resin hoppers inside the molding plant are equipped with BinMaster’s vibrating sensors to monitor resin levels and to trigger the pneumatic conveying system to move resin to the presses.

Molding machines not connected to the pneumatic conveying system are fed from gaylords.

Garner maintains about 280 active molds and makes about 20 mold changes per day.

Two full-time toolmakers perform tool modifications, repairs and maintenance.

The company manages mold-building projects for customers and sources molds from the U.S., China and, more recently, Vietnam. Kunkle is currently on a two-year assignment in Vietnam to identify and work with mold-building shops capable of meeting Garner’s standards.

“I started sourcing in China eight years ago, but China’s pricing has gotten significantly higher,” Kunkle said. “Now we are moving to production in Vietnam, where there are substantially lower costs but still good quality. They are on a learning curve.”

For robots, Garner uses Yushin and Wittmann Battenfeld products. There are also some parts-handling robots from AEC.

Blenders are from Conair, and dryers are from Universal Dynamics and Matsui.

For quality control, there is a fully automatic Zeiss CMM, a Sprint optical CMM with a touch probe and a Tesa CMM.

Garner uses Microsoft Dynamics NAV for its plant-wide enterprise resource planning software. It uses PlannerOne software for production planning and scheduling.

Regrind is generally processed beside the press or in a closed-loop system nearby.

The plant runs 24/7. Kunkle said that worker retention has improved in the past couple of years because of new programs, such as a greater pay differential between the second and third shifts, good environmental conditions in the plant and an improved lunchroom. In addition, the company offers classes in English as a second language at no charge in the plant, either before or after a shift.

“We have several different ethnic groups represented in the plant, and most of our new employees come from referrals of people in their neighborhoods,” Kunkle said. Referrals are rewarded with a $500 bonus.