Two Dynacast Inc. is folding two injection molding plants in the Southeast into a larger North Carolina facility, part of a $5 million bid to boost its East Coast molding for products such as computers and cellular telephones.
The firm also plans to open a plant in Guadalajara, Mexico, this year, the fourth large plant it has built since early 1996. Dynacast officials declined to provide details of the new Mexican plant.
In the United States, meanwhile, the company will close its Seneca, S.C., plant — its oldest U.S. plastics facility — and its Hickory, N.C., plant, in a move away from the textile business that accounted for much of the work at Seneca.
Some of that textile work will be taken over by another unit of its parent firm — United Kingdom textile giant Coats Wiyella plc — while the rest of the plant's textile business could be sold to a buyer that Dynacast is negotiating with, said Dan Schunemann, vice president of human resources for the Yorktown Heights, N.Y.-based company.
The new plant will bring Dynacast's production in the Southeast up to the caliber of its other, newer plants in North America, and allow the firm to better compete for growing markets such as telecommunications, consumer electronics, computers and automotive, particularly in the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee.
``What we are trying to do is focus on our core competencies, which in plastic has been new materials and leading-edge sorts of technology like thin-wall molding, vacuum metalizing and in-mold decoration,'' Schunemann said.
``We have had some discussions with customers who would be quite happy to do business with us if we had a plant in that area,'' he said.
Those include IBM and Canon, officials said.
The new facility, slated to open in Conover, N.C., by mid-1998, also will have a complete toolroom, new equipment and full secondary assembly capabilities. The 100,000-square-foot plant will be much larger than Seneca's 50,000 square feet and Hickory's 20,000 square feet. Officials did not provide specifics about the capacity of the new plant.
``Much of the Seneca business was textile-related, and that's not a business we intend to emphasize going forward,'' said company spokesman Steve Martindale.
The plants are part of Dynacast's plastics division, SPM Inc. Seneca had been doing less than $20 million in business a year, mainly making consumer and industrial spools and some plastics pieces used in textile manufacturing, Schunemann said.
SPM ranked 13th in Plastics News' 1997 survey of North American injection molders, with $235 million in annual sales.
The consumer spools business is being transferred to a Coats American facility in North Carolina, while Dynacast is in talks to sell its industrial spools business and plastics pieces for textile manufacturing to another company, he said. The deal could close soon, he said.
Employees at both shuttered plants will be offered jobs in Conover, which is near Hickory, about 50 miles northwest of Charlotte.
The company also will offer Seneca employees positions at Dynacast metalworking or Coats American textile plants in the state, or will be given a severance package.
The move should result in a net increase in employment, officials said.
The 28-year-old Seneca plant probably will close between October and the end of the year and be sold, while Hickory will remain open until Conover begins operating. The Conover facility will be leased, officials said.