Reichhold Chemicals Inc. of Durham, N.C., a leader in unsaturated polyester thermoset resin production, officially has entered the realm of thermoplastic compounding.
Reichhold has taken over management of Premier Polymers Inc. of Alvin, Texas, from both companies' Japanese parent, Dainippon Ink and Chemicals Inc. The transition actually took place in October, but Reichhold waited until Jan. 26 to announce the move.
PPI, which has been owned jointly by DIC and Sumitomo Corp. since 1987, specializes in compounding polybutylene terephthalate. The firm also processes PET, polyolefins, polyphenylene sulfide, nylon and polycarbonate/ABS and has the capability to compound polyacetals, polyamides, styrenics and fluoropolymers.
While the move marks a departure for Reichhold's portfolio, switching from Japanese to North American management was a natural choice, new PPI President Robert Mouro said in a Feb. 6 telephone interview.
``We have a couple of people in [Reichhold] who have many years of experience in the thermoplastics industry,'' he said.
In fact, Reichhold Chief Executive Officer Phil Ashkettle, who earlier was involved in thermoplastics at Ashland Chemical Co., lobbied to bring PPI under Reichhold management.
DIC and Sumitomo, both based in Tokyo, managed PPI from Japan as a 50-50 joint venture to provide a North American resin source for their Japanese customers operating here, Mouro said. DIC since has taken a majority stake in PPI, and will own 100 percent of the firm by the end of this year, he said.
PPI's parentage gives it advantages in several markets, Mouro said. In Japan, DIC does a lot of compounding for the automotive and electrical industries and has some proprietary technology for PBT compounds. In the United States, Reichhold is involved in polymer-modification technology aimed at enhancing compound compatibility between resins.
With new U.S. managers, PPI has a new challenge.
``We want to maintain our existing Japanese transplant customers and grow our business with them,'' Mouro said. ``We also want to broaden the scope of the business beyond just Japanese transplant customers. We are interested in developing partnerships to co-develop unique materials to meet the requirements of specific end-use applications.''
PPI also will be selling its proprietary PBT compounds, he said.