GIANT JM MFG. WILL EXPAND PRODUCT LINES

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JM Manufacturing Co. Inc., already the largest PVC pipe producer in North America, is building a pipe plant in Georgia, and plans to expand into other product lines as it develops the site.

Immediate plans call for making both PVC and high density polyethylene pipe — the latter a new product for the Livingston, N.J., firm.

Georgia Gov. Zell Miller on March 19 announced his state successfully lured JM Manufacturing to a 200-acre site in Adel, a city of 5,000 about 50 miles north of the Florida border. The company plans a $25 million, 250,000-square-foot plant employing 150 to start, according to a company news release.

The facility initially will produce foam-core PVC drain, waste and vent pipe for markets in the Southeast, Walter Wang, executive vice president and general manager of JM Manufacturing, said in a telephone interview from New Jersey. HDPE pipe will follow.

``PE has a very good future,'' Wang said, noting the growth of the material's use in fiber-optics installations.

But the firm's plans don't end there, Wang said.

The company said the site has room for three more factories, according to Wang.

``We have ideas'' what those future plants could make, Wang said. ``But we have made no decisions.''

Future product lines coming out of the park could include other building products, not just pipe, according to Claude Corcos, JM's national sales manager.

``We're looking for a new direction,'' he said. ``We want to grow, and we want to grow in plastics.''

Although industry sources have speculated about the types of products JM may venture into, Wang said ``not to make assumptions'' about JM's future plans.

But the progression from pipe to other building products would be logical for JM Manufacturing, Henry Chang, senior marketing analyst for competitor Westlake Group of Cos., said in a March 18 telephone interview from Westlake's Houston headquarters.

``Profit margins are much, much higher than with pipe,'' Chang said, noting JM's parent, Formosa Plastics Corp., already was a major door and window maker in its home base of Taiwan.

Two state grants will help JM prepare its 200-acre site for the new factory, according to Adel city manager John Flythe. One grant will fund a rail spur to the plant. The other will help pay for road and water improvements in the area.The region's availability of electrical power provided another incentive for JM Manufacturing.

``A decisive factor was that we have a choice of power provider and can secure quality power at a competitive cost,'' Wang said in a news release.

Corcos explained Georgia law requires major power users to have a choice of as many as four providers. Three companies have bid to serve the new plant, but JM has not selected a supplier, Corcos said.

JM Manufacturing, which employs 1,100 at 13 plants in the United States, reported $420 million in 1995 sales of PVC pipe products, according to Plastics News' most recent survey of pipe, profile and tubing firms, published last June. The company currently operates 130 extrusion lines, all of which are used for pipe production. Only two of those facilities, and none in the South, produce the foam-core PVC product.

Current JM Manufacturing pipe plant locations include Stockton, Calif.; Batchelor, La.; Butner, N.C.; Franklin and Cochranton, Pa.; Green Cove Springs and Newberry, Fla.; Umatilla, Ore.; Pueblo, Colo.; Winnebago, Minn.; Wharton, Texas; and Wilton, Iowa.