Achilles USA Inc. has installed a fifth calendering line at its Everett, Wash., plant, a move the company says will boost annual production capacity of PVC sheeting to more than 60 million pounds. The addition of the $8 million line should increase employment by 25 people at the plant to a total of 180. The firm dedicated the new line Aug. 7.
The company, a subsidiary of Achilles Corp. of Tokyo, said the new line will better help it meet demand for sheeting used in a diverse array of products, including stationery supplies, water beds, industrial fabrics and medical products. Achilles also has seen demand rise for niche products, such as static-cling vinyl sheeting used in advertising. The sheeting can be applied to storefront windows without adhesive and easily removed.
``We do quite a bit of business with that product,'' said Joel Jenkins, Achilles USA research and development associate.
The parent company, with overall sales of $1 billion, has five plants in Japan where it makes a variety of products, including mattress foam, vinyl for clothing and shoes and a line of inflatable boats. Achilles USA had sales of $54 million for the year ended March 31.
Achilles opened the Everett plant, its sole manufacturing site in the United States, in 1974. It also maintains sales and distribution offices in E. Rutherford, N.J., and Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
Although the vast majority of production at Everett involves PVC sheet, the company recently has been testing new compounds and applications involving polyethylene and polypro-pylene, Jenkins said. But any further capacity expansion probably would occur in Everett because of the availability of land at the current site, he said.
Achilles also may take a harder look at exporting more product to Japan to take advantage of a favorable yen-dollar exchange rate, Jenkins said.
``It's starting to look like exporting might be more attractive,'' he said.