Osterman rebranding to focus on its value-added services

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Resin distributor Osterman & Co. Inc. has a full growth agenda for 2014, including major volume gains, new sales hires and a corporate rebranding.

“Since our company was founded almost forty years ago, we’ve always offered customers value-added services,” President John Dwyer said in a June 23 news release. “There’s a perception that we’re just a trader or a distributor. The reality is we’re in every aspect of the plastics business.”

Cheshire, Conn.-based Osterman has been on a steep growth curve in recent years, and now distributes one billion pounds of resin annually from 14 suppliers and from its own brands of prime generic resins. Prime resins account for almost three quarters of the firm’s total sales volume in pounds.

In a June 30 phone interview, Dwyer said that Osterman generates about two-thirds of its sales volume from North America, with the remaining one-third coming from Latin America. The firm’s strength in that region is connected to the 2009 formation of its Latin American Polymers (LAP) unit and from its 2013 acquisition of resin distributor Quimtec LP of San Jose, Costa Rica.

For 2014, Dwyer said Osterman expects high-volume commodity resin sales growth of only 1-2 percent, but growth of 40-50 percent in sales of resin sold in less-than-railcar amounts. Sales volume growth in Latin America also is expected to come in at around 30 percent.

This growth is leading Osterman to add nine new sales reps this year, bringing its total of reps hired in the last four years to 20. These reps will have completed the firm’s training program, Dwyer said, which will have them prepared to help customers in numerous ways.

“We’re not just walking in with a clipboard,” he added. “We’ll know about new technologies and will be doing more work in application development and market-specific trends and technologies. We want to be experts in those specific markets.”

The oncoming addition of new capacity for polyethylene and other resins in North America — resulting from new supplies of shale-based natural gas feedstock — also should provide an opportunity for Osterman and other resin suppliers in the region.

“With the cost position we enjoy, it’s hard to imagine there won’t be some processing growth here at home,” Dwyer said. “But if you look at where that new capacity is coming on, it’s going to end up all over the globe. [Resin makers] are going to look south of the border, and that’s why we’ve shaped our strategy that way. There’s going to be a lot of material sold into that market.”

The branding makeover includes brightly colored logos for each Osterman business. The company also has launched Osterman Market Intelligence, an online site that’s described as an industry hub for insight, market data, analysis and news. Toll compounding services also are available to Osterman customers.

Osterman also will be looking to add at least one or two new supply partners by the end of 2015. Dwyer said these new suppliers could cover commodity and engineering resins both in North America and Latin America.