AKRON, OHIO - Two months after Occidental Chemical Corp. acquired Laurel Industries Inc., it has sold that company's toll compounding unit to Akron-based A. Schulman Inc. Laurel's former Specialty Compounding Division gives Schulman a 50,000-square-foot plant with two twin-screw extruders and two Farrel continuous mixers in Sharon Center, Ohio.
The 40-person outfit boosts Schulman's compounding capacity by about 18 million pounds in the Akron area, where it already has a 73 million-pound operation. The smaller unit will provide material and technical support to the larger, said President Terry Haines.
``We were looking to add almost exactly that kind of capacity,'' he said.
Laurel opened the plant two years ago, and added 23,000 square feet and the fourth compounding line early this year. When Dallas-based OxyChem bought Laurel Sept. 3, it did not want the compounding arm, said OxyChem spokesman Ken Haseley. Laurel is a large producer of antimony oxide, a flame retardant.
``This was a business that - when we acquired Laurel Industries - we did not have any interest in and it was our intent to sell it,'' he said recently by telephone. Terms were not disclosed.
Schulman had been planning to add some smaller-volume equipment, according to Haines. It will continue the toll operation and use some capacity for producing engineering compounds, mainly from polyethylene and polypro-pylene, for the packaging, appliance, consumer product and automotive markets, he said. Tolling accounted for less than 5 percent of Schulman's sales in fiscal 1996.
``We're looking at it for a full range of our products at less-than-truckload productions. The equipment is the right size for those kind of materials,'' he said.
In the past three years Schulman has added five new operations, including one in Surabaya, Indonesia, that cost about $8 million and will open by next summer, he said. That plant will help supply the compounder's $40 million Asian market. The company also plans to boost capacity at its Mexican plant in San Luis Potosi by year's end 1997. Schulman operates 13 plants worldwide.
With selling prices down, the firm saw a rough first half for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31. But Schulman turned that around in the second half, reporting fourth-quarter profit of nearly $14 million, up 16 percent from just under $12.1 million for the year-ago period. The firm posted 1996 sales of $976.7 million.