LATI OPENING S.C. BRANCH

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An Italian compounder of engineering thermoplastics, Lati Industria Thermoplastici SpA, will sprout a new branch in South Carolina.

Lati USA Inc. announced Feb. 7 that it intends to spend $50 million during the next 18 months to build a 100,000-square-foot facility to produce compounds for the automotive, electrical and electronics and other industries.

Lati has not determined the site for its new facility.

However, Gregory Newby, president of Lati USA, said he expects the firm to locate near Charleston, S.C.

Since September, Lati USA has operated out of temporary offices in Mount Pleasant, a suburb of Charleston.

Newby could not say how many production lines the new facility will have, but he expects that it will employ 100 within three years.

He said Lati now is importing compounds from its European operations to serve customers and to establish markets in North America.

``We followed our customers—major international automotive supplier groups — to South Carolina. The southeastern United States is exploding with new automotive suppliers, and we're going to be a part of that explosion,'' Newby stated.

He said his company will compete with LNP Engineering Plastics Inc. of Exton, Pa., and with RTP Co. of Winona, Minn., and claimed that Lati offers the widest line of flame-retardant thermoplastic compounds of any supplier.

The 52-year-old parent company is based in Milan, Italy.