Draftex GmbH is building a U.S. plant to supply North American automakers with extruded plastic and rubber weather sealing. The German firm will spend roughly $40 million during the next three years to enter the U.S. market, said Robert Snyder, president of the new subsidiary, Draftex Inc. That investment includes a 450,000-square-foot facility being built in Salisbury, N.C., and 12 Davis-Standard extruders, he said. Draftex chose Salisbury after a six-month site search, he noted.
``Draftex decided to come to the United States after having been asked to be part of the Big Three strategy for supplying weatherstripping products,'' Day said.
Besides Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp., Draftex Inc. will supply BMW of North America Inc. and Volkswagen of America Inc. Production at Salisbury should be under way by March, and all 12 extrusion lines up and running there within three years, when it will employ about 500, according to Day. The plant will be roughly 1,100 feet long, to accommodate the just-in-time, in-line operations, he said.
Like its Viersen, Germany-based parent, Draftex will do extrusions and coextrusions of PVC, ethylene propylene diene monomer and some sponge compounds to manufacture weatherstripping used around car doors, trunks and windows, Day said.
The German firm's 11 plants in Europe and a joint venture in China employ about 4,700 and have annual sales of about $368 million, he said.
London-based Laird Group, which owns Draftex, has several other plastics-related holdings in the United States, including Amesbury Group, which also makes weatherstripping. Amesbury's PPI, Foam-Tite and Textile divisions all extrude various window and door weather seals for the building industry using rubber and plastics, such as PVC and polypropylene. Foam-Tite, in Amesbury, Mass., also makes electronically conductive seals for computers and telecommunications equipment, said Eric Oberg, Foam-Tite's vice president and general manager.
Publicly held Laird had 1995 sales of about $1.4 billion, Oberg said. Its Laird Plastics Inc. subsidiary, based in West Palm Beach, Fla., distributes sheet, rod and tubing from 50 U.S. and Canadian locations, and operates two plastics-related divisions: sheet maker Continental Acrylics Inc. in Compton, Calif.; and Toronto-based Crystaplex, whose products include acrylic shields used in indoor sports arenas.