DETROIT - Sorbothane Inc., a manufacturer of polyurethane products, plans to sell its 64,000-square-foot plant in Kent, Ohio, and to spend more than $1 million to build a factory in Ohio. Sorbothane decided to relocate when its sister company, Hamilton Kent Manufacturing Co., in July transferred production to its Toronto affiliate, Kent Canada Ltd.
The two firms had shared the Kent facility, with Sorbothane occupying about 20,000 square feet, said Sorbothane President Robert E. Boyd.
Company officials discussed the firm's activities during the Society of Automotive Engineers International Congress and Exposition, held Feb. 27-March 2 in Detroit.
A BTR plc subsidiary, Sorbo-thane custom molds products for the safety, industrial, medical and sporting goods sectors from its Sorbothane compound, an energy-absorbing viscoelastic polyurethane.
The manufacturer is considering three locations - all in Portage County, in northeastern Ohio - to build a 25,000-square-foot facility.
The company is leaning toward a 4- to 5-acre location at an industrial park in Streetsboro, according to Ernie Lauber, Sorbothane product development engineer.
``We hope to move in - best-case scenario - before the end of '95, and at the latest by the end of the first quarter of '96,'' Lauber said.
``The contingency is that we sell first, but we're trying to change that so we can build immediately,'' said Lauber, adding that two companies have toured the facility.
Sorbothane will add equipment at its new facility to increase its efficiency, capacity and capabilities, Boyd said.
The company plans to spend $100,000 for a new pouring machine, $70,000 on a new set of molds for the athletic shoe insole market, $35,000 for a curing oven and $45,000 on peripheral equipment.
The firm probably will increase its current roster of 30 employees by three because of the expansion project, Boyd said.
Rubber seal maker Hamilton Kent abandoned production in the United States because it lost money the past four years; several management teams were unable to turn the company around, Boyd said.
Sorbothane, however, has been averaging 11 percent sales growth during the past four years.
Business was so strong last year that from April to September Sorbothane employees regularly worked overtime, often 60-hour weeks, he said.
``But then we hired four Hamilton Kent people,'' Boyd said.