PVC FOAM BOARD MAKER TARGETS N. AMERICA

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Kömmerling Plastics USA LLC plans to expand PVC foam board production at its new Huntsville, Ala., plant and might make window profiles there eventually.

Kömmerling Plastics formally observed the plant's opening April 14, about four months after it reached commercial production. The facility makes PVC board for advertising, marine and other markets, Jurgen Krupp, general manager, said in a telephone interview.

Kömmerling Plastics is a joint venture between Kömmerling Group in Pirmasens, Germany, and Pro-Cell, a private firm Krupp said helped steer Kömmerling through the U.S. regulatory framework. Krupp said Kömmerling Group is Europe's largest producer of PVC window profiles and a major manufacturer of PVC sheet.

Krupp said the Huntsville operation has two Kömatex extrusion lines from Germany, but it plans to add more as sales grow. It aims to be the biggest PVC foam board producer in North America, where he said the market is undeveloped.

The 30,000-square-foot plant is situated on a 13-acre site. Krupp did not disclose production capacity, but said the facility's Process Systems compounding line is big enough to feed more extrusion equipment. He also would not reveal costs of purchasing the building or equipment.

Kömmerling Plastics and government officials would provide no details on ownership levels in the joint venture or information about Pro-Cell. An Alabama Development Office spokesman said the venture did not receive state aid. Kömmerling and Pro-Cell formed the joint venture in August.

Krupp said Kömmerling USA Inc., a sales office, will move from Montvale, N.J., to Huntsville this summer. The sales office has handled imports from Europe, but Kömmerling Group wanted to cut delivery time by having a U.S. production operation.

Kömmerling Group celebrates its centennial this year. Company literature pegged group sales in 1995 at 830 million deutsche marks ($484.7 million), of which PVC products accounted for 82 percent. It also makes adhesives and sealants. It has 18 companies around the world and about 2,400 employees.

The firm's Pirmasens complex has 140 extrusion lines that make 62,000 miles of PVC profiles and board annually from about 220 million pounds of material. Its profiles are sold for windows, doors, shutters, railings, fences, cladding and other uses.

Other Kömmerling Group plants are in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and China, and it has a joint venture plant in Brazil.