Asahi/America Inc. is opening the floodgates on pipe production in the fourth quarter of 1998.
The Malden, Mass.-based company on June 24 announced plans to open a 55,000-square-foot facility in Kingman, Ariz. The plant will start out with five extrusion lines, and will add two more early next year, according to Asahi/America Chief Executive Officer Leslie B. Lewis.
The 20-acre Kingman site formerly was a distribution center for Nibco Inc., a competitor in the polypropylene pipe and fittings market.
``We're readying the building for an extrusion plant,'' Lewis said, adding the facility should be up and running between Sept. 15 and Oct. 1.
Four of the initial lines will use new, Davis-Standard machines and will concentrate on a new product for Asahi — polyethylene ducts for fiber-optic cables.
``There are a number of telecom companies that are piping fiber optics through polyethylene ducts all over the United States,'' Lewis said in a June 26 telephone interview. ``We have been chosen as a supplier for one of the larger ones.''
Lewis said it was too early to identify that customer.
The fifth line in Kingman will come from Asahi's Malden plant, Lewis said. That line extrudes Asahi's Poly-Flo line of single-piece, dual-wall-containment pipes. Asahi offers Poly-Flo pipes in PP and fluoropolymers for use in corrosive industrial processes.
The move will end extrusion operations at Malden, although the facility still will fabricate PP dual-containment pipes using products from Agru-America Inc. of Georgetown, S.C.
Asahi/America in March started production at a new corrugated pipe plant in Magnolia, Ark., under its Quail Piping Products Inc. subsidiary. Magnolia now boasts one Davis-Standard and three Processing Technologies Inc. extrusion lines, and two Unicor corrugators.
Asahi's capacity for corrugated culvert and sewer pipe will double in early 1999 when the company installs two more Davis-Standard extruders with Unicor corrugators in Kingman in early 1999. The Kingman facility will have the ability to produce corrugated pipe up to 54 inches in diameter, Lewis said.
``The market really is changing from concrete and corrugated, galvanized metal to polyethylene,'' he said.
``Our goal ultimately is to have four corrugated pipe plants,'' Lewis said, noting that ``1,200-1,500 hundred miles is the maximum cost-effective distance [to customers] in terms of shipping.''
In addition to pipe production, Asahi markets a line of thermoplastic valves and fittings from its Japanese parent company.
Asahi/America reported $13.7 million in extrusion-related sales in 1997, out of a total of $39 million for that year.