WASHINGTON - The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. has opened a new Southern regional office in Greenville, S.C., to represent the association in 11 states formerly in its Eastern or mid-Atlantic regions. The southern region of SPI includes West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida.
The former SPI mid-Atlantic and Eastern regional offices will continue to be staffed through SPI's Northeast regional office in Woburn, Mass., said Ron Bruner, SPI vice president of communications.
The new SPI office will concentrate its efforts on the industry in the Carolinas, while ``responding to member needs throughout the region,'' Bruner said.
The decision to open the office in Greenville came from a question of how to allocate SPI resources most efficiently, and not from any factors related to plastics processors' decisions to move south from Northern locations, Bruner said.
Richard A. Sturgis, former flexible packaging product manager for Williamson & Co. in Greer, S.C., will manage the Greenville office. SPI is based in Washington.
Sterling Plumbing starts up new plant
SHERIDAN, ARK. - Sterling Plumbing Group, a subsidiary of Kohler Co., has opened a new injection molding plant in Sheridan.
The company moved the equipment in toward the end of February, and in the first week of April the last machine was running. The companies brought the machines from Morgantown, W.Va., when that plant was closed. Some 300-400 employees at the West Virginia plant were put out of work.
Because of government regulations on lead, Sterling decided to move away from brass castings. The brass foundry was in Morgantown, where the plastic production was located. The company decided to move the plastic manufacturing to Sheridan to join an existing Sterling faucet plant.
Last summer, Sterling broke ground for the $2 million, 40,000 square-foot plant. The plant has about 20 injection presses that make parts for nonmetallic faucets and shower doors.
The plant now employs 60-70.
Besides the two plants in Sheridan, Sterling has plants in Searcy and Malvern, Ark.; Huntsville, Ala.; and Union City, Tenn. The headquarters are in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Kohler is the third-largest full-line plumbing manufacturer in North America.
Martix begins $1.4 million expansion
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Citing increased demand, Matrix Inc. of East Providence is expanding its plant.
According to spokesman Clarke Ryder, the $1.4 million investment will add five injection molding machines as well as 10,000 square feet of plant space, formerly occupied by a Matrix tenant. The new presses will have clamping forces of 20-350 tons.
In addition, the expansion will involve the company's warehouse, handling and inventory control capabilities. Matrix also will have a new Customer Service and Quality Center. The center's metrology laboratory will have the capability to measure micron tolerances. The company's toolroom also will be upgraded.
Ryder said employee training will increase fourfold, though the work force will not increase.
Matrix precision molds automotive, electronic components and fiber optic parts for the automotive industry. The company has 70 employees and 23 injection presses.
Astral seeks partner for CD production
MONTREAL - Astral Communications Inc. is looking for a strategic partner for its Boca Raton, Fla., compact disc plant, a spokesman confirmed.
The Montreal firm opened the AstralTech Americas Inc. CD plant in February 1994, but it has been losing money because of low selling prices and lower-than-expected production volumes. The plant has capacity to make 20 million CDs and CD-ROMs a year. Its initial capacity was 15 million units a year using injection molding machinery from Toolex Alpha of Sweden and other equipment.
Spokesman Charles Pitts denied a Financial Post report that Astral will consider selling the plant if a partner is not found. He said Astral hopes to find a partner within the CD industry by the end of August. Pitts declined further comment.