Netco Extruded staking out niche in medical

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Having built a strong telecommunications business, Netco Extruded Plastics Inc. now is focusing on expanding its medical and industrial markets as well.

“We’re building strong partnerships with our shareholders and our community. We’re also partnering with our employees to foster new ideas,” said Knut Schmiedeknecht, president and CEO, at a 75th anniversary celebration in Hudson.

During the last five years, the company has put in a new management team and is emphasizing improved quality. It has attained ISO 9001 status, he said. This has given the firm confidence to seek out niche markets.

Netco originally was known as the New England Tape Co. In the mid-1940s it began developing cover extrusions and entered the telecommunications market. Today its extrusions, profiles, clips, insulators and protective sheaths also are used by medical and industrial customers.

One example: a special jacketing component made of fire-retardant material to protect hoses and cables on an airplane.

Schmiedeknecht said the firm’s specialty extrusion operation handles lower-volume projects that are focused on quality.

The company runs nine extrusion lines, mostly from Davis Standard, at its 65,000-square-foot facility in Hudson. It has 28 employees.

Schmiedeknecht said the American market for extruded products is improving. He did not disclose sales but said they are up more than 25 percent over last year.

The company also is building on a strategic partnership with sister company TTP GmbH of Papenburg, Germany.

Rudoph Brickenstein bought the company in 1981. He has since retired but is still the largest shareholder in Brugmann GmbH, which owns Netco.

Brugmann’s thermoplastic resources were reorganized in 2002 to form Salamander Industry Products GmbH, which serves as the parent of both Netco and TTP.

TTP is run by Schmiedeknecht’s brother, Heyo, and does similar work to Netco. It is larger, with four production sites — two in Germany, one in Poland and another in Belarus, according to Heyo Schmiedeknecht.

He said TTP has been able to grow its sales from $15.4 million to more than $33 million in the last three years.

Heyo Schmiedeknecht said some TTP customers in Europe are considering offering products in the United States. Netco can help with new ventures, he said.