PFB Corp.'s Morval Division recently completed a two-year diversification program. Morval, based in Kitchener, Ontario, formerly only made expanded polystyrene packaging, but its key business now is automotive impact-protection products based on molded foam plastics. PFB invested about C$5 million (US$3.7 million) in machinery and a new plant in Kitchener that Morval opened early this year.
PFB's Morval Division ``reached a flat spot'' several years ago in the EPS packaging market, PFB Executive Vice President Dan Stearne said. Many consumer goods makers moved production out of Canada to Mexico and the southern United States, hurting packaging demand.
``Environmental overreaction'' to EPS also hurt sales, Stearne said in a telephone interview from PFB's headquarters in Calgary, Alberta.
Stearne said his company decided to apply new technology and launch the Morval unit into new areas. Morval now has a half-dozen new accounts with Tier 1 and 2 auto suppliers in Canada, United States and Mexico. It makes EPS, expanded polypropylene and expanded copolymers into protective foams for auto doors, pillars and knee bolsters. It claims it is one of the first suppliers of those products in North America to achieve ISO 9001. It predicts double-digit growth in the passenger-compartment collision-protection market.
Morval also makes protective packaging and materials-handling systems for electronics, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries. Market conditions have improved for those products, Stearne said. PFB has several other plants in Canada making EPS construction products and packaging.
Plasti-Fab Ltd. changed its name to PFB Corp. a year ago. PFB reported sales of C$25.1 million (US$18.6 million) and profit of C$1.6 million (US$1.2 million) for the nine months ended Sept. 30.