Sommer-Allibert SA of France has teamed up with Contico International Inc. of St. Louis to produce materials-handling containers in North America. The firms have created a joint venture, Allibert Contico, to mold the products at Contico's new Springfield, Mo., plant, the partners announced Jan. 30. The 50/50 limited liability corporation occupies a 225,000-square-foot plant that Contico completed late last year.
The Springfield plant has seven structural foam and injection molding presses but the venture ``is looking at installing a lot more,'' said Randy Stoll, Alli-bert Contico's vice president of sales and marketing.
Stoll said the joint venture also includes Allibert Industries Ltd. of Montreal, a producer of materials-handling containers that was formerly owned by Sommer-Allibert. The Montreal plant will continue operating.
The partners finalized the venture in early January and predict sales of more than $15 million in the first year of operation, Stoll said in a Feb. 2 telephone interview.
Stoll said the new company combines Contico's experience in structural foam molding and injection molding and the French firm's strengths in engineering and materials-handling systems design. The joint venture has begun producing collapsible bulk bins developed by Contico and will add other niche-oriented, reusable containers, according to Stoll. Sommer-Allibert now makes a range of agricultural, industrial, automotive and other containers in Europe and Canada. Allibert Contico mainly will mold high density polyethylene.
The venture is now structural foam molding Contico's bulk container components and as-sembling them into bins with bases as large as 48 inches by 45 inches and heights up to 34 inches. It also will injection mold container components soon.
Allibert Contico will have all manufacturing, sales and marketing responsibilities of the joint venture.
Stoll would not disclose the amount of investment the partners plan for Springfield.
Contico announced about a year ago plans to build and equip the Springfield plant at a cost of $10 million-$12 million to make housewares, toolboxes and materials-handling goods. At the time it did not indicate any joint venture plan.
Stoll said the partners began joint venture discussions last spring and that Contico would have completed and operated the facility on its own even if they were unable to conclude a joint venture.
Contico located the plant in Springfield because of local financial and training incentives and low power rates. The partners expect to eventually employ 300.
Allibert Contico's national sales manager is Rich Larson. The joint venture also appointed Ted Preston as manager of Canadian operations, Tim Shearer as regional manager for automotive and Dave Vorster as southeast regional sales manager.
Contico has 14 facilities in the United States, Mexico and England and about 250 presses. Last year it predicted sales of about $260 million for the year ended May 31.
Sommer-Allibert has consolidated sales of about $2.5 billion. Its North American operations include an auto interior trim joint venture near Spartanburg, S.C.