Ford revamps automotive products unit
FRANKFURT, GERMANY — Ford Motor Co. has restructured its parts-making division to manufacture more automotive systems, and changed its name to Visteon.
The $16.4 billion division, formerly known as Ford Automotive Products Operations, was created last fall as a separate profit center serving Ford and outside suppliers. The company now wants to increase sales to non-Ford suppliers by 25 percent a year from $1.3 billion.
Under the reorganization, announced Sept. 9 during the Frankfurt auto show, the division will be divided into seven units: chassis, climate control, electronics, exterior systems, glass systems, interior systems and powertrain control systems.
Visteon plans to produce 27 systems, 10 major modules and 64 components. Its major plastics-based systems will include bumpers, instrument panels, door panels and overhead components. The company said it has no plans to jettison any plants.
PVC price-hike attempts in the works
AKRON, OHIO — In a move to bolster sagging prices, Shintech Inc. has announced three price increases that would boost PVC resin prices 4 cents by the end of the year.
Three other firms — Formosa Plastics Corp. USA of Livingston, N.J.; Condea Vista Chemical Co. of Houston; and Georgia Gulf Corp. of Atlanta — each confirmed they will take the same step to stop a price slide that began in August. Industry sources said Occidental Chemical Co. of Dallas planned a similar move, but company officials were unavailable for comment.
Houston-based Shintech will attempt to increase prices 2 cents per pound Oct. 1, 1 cent Nov. 1 and 1 cent Dec. 1.
Suppliers have announced four price increases totaling 9 cents this year, but only 3-5 cents had gone through before prices began to slide, according to Plastics News' weekly pricing chart.
Suppliers cited a slower-than-usual home construction season for the early price softening. U.S. housing starts were down 3 percent through the first six months of the year.
Buyers, suppliers note drop in PP prices
AKRON, OHIO — Polypropylene buyers reported an average drop of 3 cents in their August invoice prices.
Officials at PP makers Montell Polyolefins of Wilmington, Del.; Union Carbide Corp. of Danbury, Conn.; and Phillips Sumika Polypropylene Co. of Houston confirmed a downturn in prices of 1-3 cents. Plastics News' resin pricing chart is showing a 3 cent reduction for all grades of PP this week.
Industry officials cited lower demand, inventory buildup, poor export prices, congested Houston-area rail traffic and new capacity from Exxon's 500 million to 600 million pound-per-year expansion in Baytown, Texas, as reasons for the slide. One executive said solid prices on propylene may make it difficult for manufacturers to cut further into margins by reducing prices.
Officials said September and October orders look healthy, with action from injection molders particularly strong. But some buyers said the industry may not have seen the last of price downturns this year because of excess capacity and an unsteady market. The most extreme case reported came from a buyer in South Carolina who claimed he was offered a decrease of 6-8 cents if he would order six to 12 months in advance.
``That caught me by surprise,'' the buyer said of the offer. ``But it was a pleasant surprise.''
Uniroyal purchases Townsend division
SARASOTA, FLA. — Uniroyal Technology Corp. has acquired a leading producer of cast acrylic rods and tubes to complement the firm's Glasflex business in Sterling, N.J.
The company said Sept. 8 it purchased the Townsend Plastics division of Townsend Industries Inc. The division has annual sales of about $4 million, employs 35 and occupies a 65,000-square-foot facility in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, where the operations will remain, according to Uniroyal Chief Financial Officer George Zulanas Jr.
In late August, Sarasota-based Uniroyal acquired the Lucite superabrasion-resistant acrylic coating business from ICI Acrylics Inc. Both the Lucite and Townsend businesses will report within Uniroyal's high-performance plastics segment, which the firm expects to have sales of $130 million for the fiscal year ending in September 1998. Projected sales for 1997 are $117.5 million.
Townsend Industries, based in Altoona, Iowa, makes equipment for printing multiple colors on small presses.