Comments Email Print

CHICAGO — Lati USA Inc. (Booth E10436) plans to invest $50 million in a new U.S. compounding operation that will specialize in flame-retardant and highly filled materials. The company announced the facility at NPE 1997.

Recently formed Lati USA plans to acquire a 20-acre site in the Charleston, S.C., area and start commercial production by the end of 1999, said the firm's president, Gregory Newby. It will be able to compound about 40 million pounds per year, he said by telephone a week before NPE. He said it was too early to discuss equipment details.

Newby said his firm's parent company, Lati SpA of Milan, Italy, supplied compounds to U.S. customers for about five years before it set up Lati USA in September. The Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based subsidiary has been handling U.S. sales since then. He did not disclose U.S. sales but he estimated Lati's global sales at more than $100 million.

Lati USA will make injection molding compounds mainly for electrical, electronic, automotive and appliance industries. Newby said the parent firm has wide experience with flame-retardant compounds after being in business for 52 years in Europe, where household voltages are higher than in North America.

Newby said Lati decided to make compounds in North America because its customers are expanding globally. A facility on this continent will improve the economics of supplying customers here and help the firm keep up with local technological developments.

Charleston is a transportation hub with the second-busiest deep-water port on the eastern U.S. seaboard, he said. Newby also lauded South Carolina's quality of life and strong state support for new business.

He declined to detail how much state financial support the project will get until South Carolina issues its announcements.

Lati USA was short listing potential plant sites in the week before NPE but had not made a final decision. Newby said Lati plans to buy 20 acres near Charleston and build a 150,000-square-foot plant that it will expand later to 270,000 square feet. Lati USA's current Mount Pleasant office is about six miles away from Charleston. Lati SpA started up a new compounding plant, its second, near Milan two years ago.

Newby said the compounding business is Lati's oldest and biggest, but Lati is a diverse company with interests in packaging, computers, communications and other markets.

Lati is an acronym for the Italian equivalent to Italian Technical Processing.