POLYCOM COMPLETING LA. PLANT

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DETROIT — Having just landed QS-9000 ratings for its three compounding facilities that serve the automotive industry, Polycom Huntsman is nearing completion of a new compounding operation in Lake Charles, La.

Polycom Huntsman Inc. of Washington, Pa., is building the 50,000-square-foot plant as part of a $20 million expansion program that began two years ago, according to George Abd, vice president. Abd spoke Feb. 25 at the SAE show in Detroit.

The Lake Charles plant will begin production in June with a Banbury mixer line, Abd said. Six months later, the company will add a continuous mixer or a twin-screw extrusion line.

The plant will give the company additional production capacity for markets it now serves, while moving it back near customers in Texas and the South. The company left the Texas markets several years ago with the sale of a compounding facility. It then expanded two plants in Donora, Pa., and doubled capacity at its plant in Donchery, France. The latter plant was built in 1994, and is being expanded again — this time to increase capacity by one-third, Abd said.

``Our business has grown significantly, and we are adding capacity to increase our flexibility while reducing our lead times,'' he said.

The firm also will pursue new business in a variety of markets.

As a result of the expansions, Polycom Huntsman has added 110 employees in the past two years, and expects to add another 40-50 by the end of this year. The company now employs 460.

Abd would not reveal annual sales, but he said it now has the capacity to compound more than 600 million pounds of thermoplastic resins a year.

Polycom Huntsman has eight facilities that provide custom and toll compounding, additives and color compounding to the automotive, small appliance, flexible packaging, consumer electronics and other industries. The Lake Charles plant will be the company's ninth.

Abd said his company is particularly proud of gaining the QS-9000 ratings. Abd claimed that his company is the first thermoplastic compounder whose complete automotive facilities have gained the rating.

He said Polycom Huntsman's Lockport, N.Y., facility achieved the rating in August; St. Clair, Mich., in September; and Donchery in December.