SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — Tubos e ConexÃµes Tigre Ltda. is expanding its pipe operations in South America and branching into new building products.
The Joinville, Brazil, company will expand production of pipe, fittings and blow molded products in Brazil, open a PVC pipe plant in Argentina in December and conclude the negotiations for its first partnership in Chile.
Tigre plans to reach beyond its roots as a pipe extruder and become more of a construction material company. The firm is preparing to enter the vinyl door and window market through a joint venture with an undisclosed U.S. processor.
Tigre has a 353.5 million-pound-per-year capacity and leads the Brazilian pipe and fittings sector with a 65 percent market share, according to internal company figures.
``Since 1994, Tigre has put into practice an accelerated growth plan to establish itself as a leader in the South American region,'' said planning director Ivo Gramkow. ``We have other countries in mind.''
Brazil represents 50 percent of the South American pipe and fittings market with demand for 617.3 million pounds per year, he said.
Tigre has plants in the Brazilian cities of Joinville, Rio Claro and Camacari. It reported $480 million in sales last year.
In late 1996, the company reported extrusion and injection molding capacities of 304.2 million and 48.5 million pounds per year, respectively, dedicated mainly to processing PVC.
The blow molding lines were launched in October at the Rio Claro facility to produce 727,524 pounds per year of polyethylene products such as toilet seats, flushing tanks, special pipes and flexible connectors.
By the end of the year, Tigre plans to expand its total annual capacity to 418.9 million pounds in Brazil.
``The growth percentage in injection mold lines will be superior to that of extrusion lines, and we do not discard the idea of opening new units,'' Gramkow said.
He did not disclose the equipment acquired or the cost of the expansion.
In Argentina, the 26.5 million-pound-per-year PVC pipe plant is under construction in the city of Pilar, next to Buenos Aires. The $12 million unit will run with four extrusion lines. The firm would not provide details about the equipment.
In Paraguay, Tigre has a 49 percent stake in Tubopar Tubos Paraguayos SA & CI. With an 85 percent share of the local market, that unit, in Lambaré, can produce 26.5 million pounds of PVC pipe annually.