Kawasaki Steel Corp. is discontinuing its plastics department and production of reinforced thermoplastics compounds in Japan, but the action has a minimal impact on the company's LNP compounding subsidiaries.
``They struggled to develop a sizeable market in Japan and can't see enough opportunity to penetrate the market,'' Robert Schulz, president and chief executive officer of Kawasaki LNP Inc., said by telephone from his Exton, Pa., office.
Instead, Kawasaki is refocusing its Japanese plastics activity and investing in K-Plasheet stampable sheet using glass fiber and polypropylene principally for structural and automotive parts.
``An orderly transition from Kawasaki's compounding activity, to a scaled down LNP-directed compound presence in Japan, is underway,'' a news release said. ``This decision will not affect Kawasaki's ongoing support of LNP's global plans.''
When Kawasaki bought LNP in 1991, Kawasaki retained responsibility for developing the Japanese market. LNP was responsible for the rest of the world.
The difficulties of a steel firm trying to sell plastics, along with questions about the Japanese economy, prompted Kawasaki to pull back. The firm began notifying customers in mid-January. It could not justify the time and resources needed to make a penetration of the Japanese compound market, the release said.
Worldwide, LNP employs about 700 and anticipates 1998 sales of about $250 million, Schulz said.
Besides Exton, LNP has plants in Thorndale, Pa.; Columbus, Ind.; Santa Ana, Calif; Raamsdonkveer, the Netherlands; Thornaby-on-Tees, England; Fosses, France; and Seremban, Malaysia.
Longtime leader Schulz was named to his position January 1, and now is responsible for LNP's worldwide operations. Succeeding him with responsibility for LNP America's operations is Richard Burns, who had been executive vice president and chief operating officer for two years.