Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. has established a US$10 million joint venture in Colombia with a resin producer to make and market large-diameter, glass-reinforced plastic pipe for water and drainage. The Toledo, Ohio, company said it has entered a 50/50 partnership with Andercol SA of Medell¡n, Colombia, a maker of polyester and coating resins and PVC additives to form Owens-Corning Andercol Tuberlas SA.
Andercol SA is a subsidiary of a Colombian holding company, Inversiones Mundial.
The venture will establish a plant near Medell¡n to produce 12-inch to 96-inch diameter pipe beginning in September.
The facility, with the capacity to produce the equivalent of 328,000 feet of pipe a year, will be located at one of Andercol's two resin plants in Barbosa, Colombia, east of Medell¡n. The plant will use the latest Owens-Corning technology, according to the U.S. firm, which is to manage the operation.
Owens-Corning anticipates the market for large-diameter pipe will surge in Colombia as a result of the country's trend toward privatization of water utilities and the government's commitment to improvements in its infrastructure.
``The new commitment to update the water supply and sewage networks is expected to generate massive improvement programs in major cities,'' said Scott Koepke, president of Brussels, Belgium-based Owens-Corning pipe operations.
Koepke said that large-diameter glass-reinforced pipe has longer life and lower maintenance requirements than pipe made of traditional ductile iron or concrete.
``They also eliminate the need for costly pipe linings and coatings.'' he said.
Glass-reinforced pipe can be manufactured in longer lengths, resulting in fewer joints and easier installation, Koepke said.
Andercol General Manager Juan Gonzalez said his firm had been seeking to raise per-capita consumption of unsaturated polyester resins in Colombia. He said Andercol contacted Owens-Corning, a supplier of glass fiber to the company, and after a year of research, came up with the idea for glass-reinforced pipe manufacture.
``It was not our idea to compete with our customers in Colombia, but nobody here had an interest in investing with us,'' Gonzalez said in a telephone interview from Medell¡n.
Andersol, which produces about 110 million pounds per year of resins, had sales of US$60 million in 1995. Nearly 90 percent of the company's business is in Colombia.
The Colombian venture brings to 17 the number of countries in which Owens-Corning has glass-reinforced pipe operations, either wholly owned, in a joint-venture or through a licensee.
It also has established in Bogot , Colombia, a service center in concert with two of its other joint ventures, FiberGlass Colombia SA and Vitro Fibras SA of Mexico, to market glass-fiber reinforcement products.
Products sold through the Bogot center will come primarily from the Vitro Fibras plant in Mexico City and from Owens-Corning's Rio Claro, Brazil, plant.