TORONTO-The new owner of the former Polaris Pipe Co. plant in Bakersfield, Calif., is converting the ABS extrusion operation to high density polyethylene pipe and fittings. KWH Pipe (Canada) Ltd. of Mississauga, Ontario, bought the Polaris assets in mid-March and is upgrading the facility to make HDPE solid-wall pipe as large as 63 inches in outside diameter. KWH Canada production engineer David Fuerth said his firm will supply dies and forming equipment for the conversion. Officials were unavailable to provide cost estimates for the conversion, scheduled to be completed by year-end.
KWH Canada bought the Bakersfield operation to expand KWH Pipe Group's North American business. Its first U.S.-based operation, renamed KWH Pipe (California) Corp., complements KWH Canada's pipe extrusion plants in Huntsville, Ontario, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
KWH Pipe Group is based in Vaasa, Finland. Its other manufacturing operations are in Scandinavia, Western and Eastern Europe, India, Malaysia and Thailand.
KWH Canada did not disclose terms of the Polaris purchase in a recent news release. Former Polaris owners could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman in Bakersfield said Shap-co Inc. of Santa Moica, Calif., was Polaris' parent company.
Fuerth said KWH Canada does not make ABS pipe but it does resell it. Bakersfield extruded ABS for drain, waste and vent applications. It will make HDPE pipe and fittings exclusively, including profile wall pipe up to 96 inches in diameter. KWH Canada also said it plans to get the operation ISO 9002 certified.
KWH Canada extrudes HDPE solid-wall pressure pipe for water and waste, industrial applications, gas distribution and other markets. It claims KWH's 63-inch pipe is the largest diameter, single-wall pressure pipe in the world. It started up in Canada in 1967 and was until the late 1980s a joint venture with DuPont Canada Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario, which supplied HDPE resin. KWH Canada retained the former joint venture's Sclairpipe tradename. Nova Chemicals Ltd. of Calgary, Alberta, bought DuPont Canada's PE resin business a few years ago and acquired other Sclair trade names.
KWH Canada has exported to U.S. markets for nearly 20 years. It became active in Mexican markets in 1978 and expects the acquisition will boost its opportunities there. Industry estimates peg KWH Canada's extrusion sales at about C$60 million (US$44.1 million) last year, mostly in pipe with a small amount for tubing. Sales estimates for 1994 were C$35 million (US$25.7 million).