SINGAPORE — Eastman Chemical Co. has set up a S$2 million (US$1.25 million) technical service center in Singapore to develop new products specifically for Asia-Pacific customers.
The center will provide research and development support in the production of Eastman materials used in specialty plastics, processing aids for PVC compounds, coatings and paint, and food ingredients.
On-site facilities include sheet extrusion and thermoforming machines, and equipment for testing the flexibility and strength of coatings. Among these, a gas chromatography analyzer has been supplied by Hewlett-Packard, whose service center is just a stone's throw away.
Among the new products the firm plans to launch in the region is TXIB plasticizer, used to make vinyl products more flexible.
The Singapore center is similar to one that Eastman has in Osaka, Japan. In addition, the company has service representatives in Shanghai, China, and Taiwan.
``All of the elements that Eastman has in North America are now in Asia Pacific,'' said Dante Rutstrom, Eastman's technology director for Asia Pacific.
Despite the region's deepening economic woes, Eastman remains confident of achieving 15-20 percent annual growth in the Asia-Pacific region during the next few years. The company's regional sales in 1996 hit US$548 million.
On whether Eastman is pinning its hopes on certain countries, Tony Satterfield, regional business manager of specialty plastics, said that ``different countries offer higher potential for certain product lines.''
The company is building a 66.1 million-pound-per-year copolyester plastics plant near Kuantan, Malaysia; and an oxo chemical and derivatives complex in Singapore on the island of Sakra.
Eastman employs 400 in Asia Pacific, including 140 in Singapore, where its regional headquarters manages sales, marketing and customer-service operations.