Finnish pipe maker Uponor Group of Espoo, Finland, is putting more roots down in Eastern Europe, opening a new pipe plant in Szeksz rd, Hungary.
Uponor invested 600 million Hungarian forints (US$3 million) at the new site, according to Uponor spokesman Tarmo Anttila. Uponor has been making polyethylene and PVC in Hungary since 1992 at a leased factory.
While acknowledging the new plant is small by some standards, Anttila said Uponor felt it was important to have a manufacturing presence in the region.
``With the growth of the European Union, Hungary will be one of the first [Eastern European] countries to join,'' Anttila said.
``That will bring a lot of investment and infrastructure growth there.''
An American, Dan Schmierer, will be managing director of the Hungarian company operating the plant, Uponor Muanyag Czorendszer Kft. Schmierer had worked for DuPont Co.'s Fabricated Products Division. He joined Uponor's Aldyl division in the United States after the Finnish firm acquired the business from DuPont in 1991.
The Hungarian facility started test runs in June and started operating at a commercial level this month, Schmierer said.
``We can say by the end of the year will be equivalent to the better pipe factories in Europe,'' he said.
Only about 55 percent of the products made in Szeksz rd are for the Hungarian market. The rest will go to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova. Uponor also anticipates selling pipe products in the Balkan states, but ``that is in the future,'' Schmeirer said.
Uponor has been selling its pipe products in Hungary since 1991, and reported annual sales there of 1.3 billion Hungarian forints (US$6.6 million) in 1996.
Uponor, a wholly owned subsidiary of Asko Oy of Espoo, Finland, operates 33 plants in 14 countries, and employs 3,500. Uponor reported 1996 sales of 3.7 billion Finnish markkaa (US$817 million).