Empire Plastics Inc. has folded its $12 million PVC sheet business and the former rigid calendering business of HPG International Inc. into an operation it acquired from GenCorp Inc. late last year. Since the GenCorp deal, Bing-hamton Industries, the Vestal, N.Y., investment group that owns Empire, has been busy. Just last month, the same investors picked up Karrite International Inc., a polyethylene sheet extrusion and vacuum forming outfit in Franklin Park, Ill., with roughly $20 million in sales. Empire and Karrite are the group's only plastics concerns.
On Feb. 9, fresh from acquiring GenCorp's rigid sheet operation in Newcomerstown, Ohio, Em-pire bought HPG's rigid PVC calendering business for undisclosed terms. For now the only equipment involved in the HPG buy is a slitter, though Empire also has a month left on an option to acquire a production line, according to an HPG spokesman.
Neither the spokesman nor Empire President Bill Dunn would say what the HPG rigid vinyl business is worth.
Later this month Empire will shut down a PVC calendering unit in Arlington Heights, Ill., known as Arlington Mills Inc. Empire will move that business, along with the HPG business, to the 225,000-square-foot plant in Newcomers-town, Dunn said.
Of the 90 workers at Arlington Mills, five people, all key management figures, were offered posts at the Ohio plant, Dunn said. Koster Industries Inc. of Melville, N.Y., will auction off most of the 30-year-old outfit's calenders, mixers, slitters and other equipment for Empire, Dunn said.
``Because we had additional capacity already in place in Ohio, it made sense to consolidate everything there,'' he said in a recent telephone interview.
At Newcomerstown, Empire operates one extruder and three calendering lines. In 1995, under GenCorp, the facility did about $24 million in rigid PVC sheet sales, used in products such as protective wall coverings and aircraft interiors, Dunn said. It also makes an orange masking film used in lithography.
AMI's sales were about $12 million, mainly for the credit card and specialty advertising markets. The company also made 51/4-inch floppy disks, no longer a significant business.
Rigid PVC calendering was not a strategic business for Somerset, N.J.-based HPG, which in 1994 sold about $90 million mainly in extruded film and sheet. The company cut fewer than 10 jobs because of the sale, the spokes-man said.
In March the Vestal-based investors group, which, according to Dunn, includes members of the Koffman family, purchased Karrite.
The company's main product is car-top carriers, which it thermoforms under its own Voyager brand name, and for Sears, Roebuck and Co., under the X-Cargo brand, according to Karrite's director of sales and marketing, Bill McKissock. Karrite makes about 100,000 car-top units a year for Sears. It also does some custom work, such as in-ground ponds, he said.
At the Franklin Park facility, one extruder manufactures high and linear low density PE sheet, and high-molecular-weight PE sheet, which is shaped into products by the firm's six vacuum formers, including a rotary machine, with up to 24-inch draw capacity. Services include mold design and tooling.
The company employs 50-150, depending on the season.
Larry Schorr, chief executive for both Empire and Karrite, was unavailable for comment.