Recticel SA of Brussels, Belgium, plans to strengthen its North American automotive polyurethanes business by establishing a production facility in Auburn Hills, Mich. Recticel North America Inc. will spend between $3.5 million and $4 million to build and equip the 30,000-square-foot plant, estimated Jim Swierpel, controller for the wholly-owned subsidiary of Recticel SA. The facility, scheduled to open early next year, will focus on making Colofast PU elastomers and foams for auto window encapsulation and auto interior uses such as door panels and instrument panels.
Swierpel said the first step in Recticel's North American expansion was the name change of its chief subsidiary, Colorim Systems Inc., to Recticel North America on Sept. 1. Colorim imported and sold Recticel products in North America and subcontracted production of Colofast polymers in North America. Startup of Recticel's new Auburn Hills operation will eliminate the need for subcontractors, whose names were not disclosed by Swierpel in a telephone interview.
Recticel North America expects the Michigan plant will offer faster delivery, better control of production and more flexibility to expand automotive applications. It will supply materials and processing technology to Tier 1 auto suppliers such as auto window maker Guardian Industries Corp. of Detroit.
Recticel SA has annual sales of about $1 billion. In Europe its main markets are automotive, seating and other polyurethane foam applications.
The Belgian parent recently formed a joint venture in Germany with Johnson Controls Inc. of Manchester, Mich.
The venture allowed Recticel to capture a larger share of Volkswagen AG's auto seating business by using production capacity at an Espelkamp, Germany, operation formerly owned by JCI.