Enova Partners Edwin Rigaud: "The key is providing jobs. ... It's a push-pull effect; if I push, the door may pull open."
Edwin Rigaud, 61, plans to start Enova Partners LLC in May as a supplier to Toyota Motor Corp. and several Tier 1 suppliers. He seeks $10 million to $20 million in annual sales within three years, he said on March 17.
Rigaud owns 55 percent of the new company. Thom Gerdes, CEO of Plastic Moldings Co. LLC of Cincinnati, and another investor also own part of Enova, Rigaud said.
Plastic Moldings will be a temporary partner and mentor as Enova gains expertise, Rigaud said.
Initially, Enova will mold parts at Plastic Moldings' 60,000-square-foot plant in Shelbyville, Ind., leasing both space and equipment from the established company, he said.
Later this year, Enova will purchase four or five injection presses and start work in a section of Plastics Moldings' Cincinnati plant, Rigaud said.
Building a company
Within three years, Enova expects to operate its own facility in Cincinnati, possibly in an enterprise zone that offers tax incentives, and hire about 100 employees, Rigaud said.
Plastic Moldings' Gerdes said he is assisting Rigaud as much for community reasons as for business purposes. Plastic Moldings, an automotive supplier of precision underhood parts, wants to work with a minority-owned company that can make strides in the industry, he said.
When Rigaud told Gerdes that he wanted to become an entrepreneur, Gerdes spurred him to try injection molding.
"It will be just great if we play some role in the success of a minority-owned injection molder," said Gerdes, whose company is not minority-owned.
Rigaud spent most of his career at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. as a biochemist. He joined that company in 1965. He became director of r&d for Procter & Gamble's food and beverage business and spent time in the personal care unit.
While at Procter & Gamble, he led the technical team that developed Pringles and other food products, Rigaud said.
But Rigaud discovered late in life that he is a company builder at heart.
"I'm not afraid to build things," he said. "As we look down the road, our target is to be a significant-size company in three years. I like the idea of creating something."
In 1996, Rigaud took a leave of absence from Procter & Gamble to work on the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The museum opened last year on the Cincinnati riverfront.
Rigaud retired from Procter & Gamble in 2001. He remains co-chair of the museum.
He met Gerdes on other community boards and began contemplating entering manufacturing. Toyota officials from nearby Georgetown, Ky., told him that they would like to work with him as a supplier, he said.
Rigaud, who is black, could take advantage of the supplier development program offered by Toyota and other companies.
Enova primarily will make underhood and fuel system parts, Rigaud said. Rigaud has met with several large suppliers, including Delphi Corp., to discuss potential work, he said.
Enova also is discussing a partnership with another company to make consumer products. But those discussions are preliminary, he said.
"The key is providing jobs," Rigaud said. "Because of my connections in the community here, I know a lot of major companies. I'd like to get people opening doors and have minorities be inspired by what is going on. It's a push-pull effect; if I push, the door may pull open."