HOUSTON — The offices of plastics executives are filled with all kinds of pictures. Pictures of their spouses and kids. Pictures of themselves with politicians, celebrities and athletes.
But at GVR Complast Ltd. Co. in Houston, Chief Executive Officer Veeru Reddy shows off a picture of the first batch of compounded resin that rolled off the company's first extruder when the firm opened its doors last August.
``I know what went into reaching that stage,'' Reddy said of the inaugural photo.
GVR has gone from ``that stage'' to installing 25 million pounds of compounding capacity in less than a year. In that time, the firm has completed about 250 tolling and custom compounding jobs for such plastics giants as Fina Oil & Chemical Co., Huntsman Corp. and Phillips Petroleum Co.
More than half of GVR's production to date has been in toll compounding, but Reddy said in a recent interview at the GVR office that he's working to increase the company's presence in the custom compounding arena. That goal should be attainable if Reddy, who co-owns the business with his brother, moves with the same speed he's shown since deciding to enter the plastics compounding industry.
After spending 14 years in the detergents and chemical/agricultural fibers industries in New York, Reddy surveyed several industries before deciding to focus on plastic compounding.
``I wanted to start something substantial,'' he said. ``I'd been talking about it for five or six years and I didn't want to start a mom-and-pop business.''
``My background is basically in mechanical and industrial engineering and I was looking for a growth industry,'' Reddy added.
After settling on compounding, Reddy chose Houston as his site. He described the city, which is home to many major resin makers, as ``a mecca for the plastics explosion.'' Access to major Gulf Coast chemical suppliers didn't hurt either.
With its first birthday approaching, GVR is operating four compounding lines — two twin-screw and two single-screw machines. The company plans to add another twin-screw line later this year and two more similar lines in 1999.
Overall, GVR's 30,000-square-foot facility will have room for seven or eight more lines when its warehousing operations are moved to a separate facility on the 5-acre site. That move could take place sometime next year.
GVR employs 22 but hopes to expand that number to 30-35 by the end of the year. The current group includes a 10- to 12-member production team that has more than 120 years of combined experience in the compounding industry.
Although many fledgling plastics compounders look to fill niche roles right off the bat, GVR is taking the opposite approach. The company's wide product line includes compounds made with most commodity resins as well as more-specialized materials such as liquid crystal polymers and thermoplastic elastomers.
``We've done some value-added, high-end polyolefin jobs to keep our machine capacity growing and running,'' Reddy said. ``But I think we'll cut down on our product mix as we go along and focus on engineering resins and elastomers.''
Reddy, who declined to reveal GVR's first-year sales, also hopes the company eventually can move into larger commercial runs and research and development work, as well as cracking the lucrative automotive market.
Like many start-up operations, GVR focuses on the speed it can offer to prospective customers. Reddy said the company's average turnaround time is two weeks from order to delivery.
Reddy also is attempting to find balance in a competitive industry.
``I've learned a great deal in the last year,'' Reddy said. ``This is a very competitive business, but I'd rather focus on what we're doing instead of what people say our competitors are doing.''