Hesperia, California

President John Kasbon sees growing opportunities in the medical industry as well as the military for his well-rounded job shop.

“I always liked building stuff,” says Kasbon, whose childhood friends nicknamed him “Kazz” because of the pronunciation of his last name. “My dad was a mold maker, and I started my apprenticeship with him in 1990. Then my dad passed in 1992, and I took over his tooling company. In 1997, I incorporated and moved in with an injection molding company. I ended up buying that company’s owner out so that I could produce molds and make parts in the same place.”

Photos Jonathan Castner

The result was Kazz Molds, a one-stop shop for customers ranging from individuals with ideas for their own products to companies in industries like medical and utilities — and all the way up to the U.S. military. Within his 6,600-square-foot shop, Kasbon offers custom injection molding services, on-site tooling, mold repair and troubleshooting, and plastic manufacturing with runs from 50 to 200,000 pieces.

“We’re very diversified,” Kasbon says of his client base. “My biggest customer does patio furniture. Another guy made a skateboard hanger so you can hang your skateboard on the wall. It doubles as a tool hanger. Another customer came up with a bubble level for an RV. And I had a guy that worked for Edison. People were stealing the aluminum straps printed with telephone pole ID numbers. They’d steal them, chop them up, and recycle them. So [my customer] came up with the idea of printing them on plastic instead.”

Whether it’s a simple part or a complete product, Kasbon says working with his customers is very rewarding. “I can take somebody’s idea, build the mold, and then sample it,” he continues. “I’m the first one in the world that gets to see this product that was produced from a customer’s idea.”

In some cases, Kasbon helps his individual clients out with product sales as well. “There are a couple of different products that I help the owners out by selling them on eBay and then giving them back a percentage,” he explains. “I always try to do the right thing. There are so many times that you can do that in this industry.”

Kazz Molds’ charitable works include printing mask straps for donation to hospitals, stores, banks, and other essential customer-facing businesses during the pandemic.

“There was an Eagle Scout, I think he was in Canada,” Kasbon says, “and he was printing 3D straps to hold masks off your ears. He put the design online, and I used it to build an injection mold. Within five days, I was producing 250 parts an hour. I’ve given away more than 15,000 of them. I’ve mailed them out nationwide.”

Challenges: Kasbon says inflation and rising rent are his biggest challenges. When his landlord’s sons took over their father’s business, they increased Kazz Molds’ rent by about 35 percent. “Then they hired a management company who told them that they were way undervalued,” Kasbon continues. “And now they’ve increased it again 75 percent. So yeah, that landlord is going to make more money than I do.”

Opportunities: Kasbon is always looking for innovative ways to serve his customers — including saving them money.

“During the time when everybody was going overseas with their tooling, we developed a couple of molds with pockets cut out of them,” he says. “We sell our customers a set of inserts with their detail in it. That just goes into our mold, so we’re saving them anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 for a mold base because it just fits into ours. The customer is buying the insert, which belongs to them, and they can pull it anytime. That’s our way of competing with the overseas markets.”

Kasbon is also making efforts to get his name in front of potential customers as much as possible — including by joining the Sustainment supplier community. “Anytime I have the opportunity to put our business out there, I will take advantage of it,” he says.

Needs: Though Kazz Molds won a large tooling project for the government in 2022 that netted the business the equivalent of nearly its entire 2021 revenue, Kasbon would still like more opportunities to quote jobs — despite the need to hire additional staff if he lands them.

“I have a total of six machines, and I only have two to three of them running,” he explains. “So, I have more capacity. But as far as employees, I have one full-time right now. And between he and myself, we can keep those three running. But if I get more work, then I have to hire somebody else. That entails training, which takes me away from doing the tooling work that is where my main focus usually is.”