Teknor Apex Co. has expanded its thermoplastic elastomer business by acquiring QST Inc., a TPE compounder in St. Albans, Vt.
Jonathan Fain, president of Pawtucket, R.I.-based Teknor Apex, said the purchase gives his company ``a cornerstone'' in its plans to develop a separate TPE division with a worldwide marketing focus.
``We see a strong strategic fit between our broad TPE product lines and end-use markets and the specialized TPE capabilities of QST,'' Fain said in a news release.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
QST co-founder Larry Monty, who has worked in the TPE industry since the late 1960s, will continue to manage the company.
``The big potential here is in replacing thermoset rubber on a worldwide basis,'' Monty said in a recent telephone interview. ``I made the decision [to sell] because I think TPEs are on the verge of doing something big.''
Monty founded QST in 1991 to be a proprietary supplier of TPEs to original equipment manufacturers and international clients. In seven years, QST has grown to become one of North America's three largest independent TPE makers based on annual sales, Monty said.
QST currently employs about 30 and produces about 25 million pounds of material each year. Its top end markets include toothbrushes, disposable masks, industrial wheels and medical stoppers.
Monty added that the deal provides Teknor Apex with QST's proprietary polymers and unique thermoplastic polyolefins technology. QST's TPEs, TPOs, modified polyolefins and cross-linkable elastomers will continue to be sold under their original brand names.
Teknor Apex ranked as one of the 12 largest compounders in the United States in a recent study by Frost & Sullivan of Mountain View, Calif. The firm is North America's third-largest PVC compounder, with about 8 percent of the market.
To date, Teknor Apex's presence in the TPE market has been in styrenic block copolymers, TPOs, PVC-based TPEs, and elastomer/plastomer blends. The company also is licensed to produce products owned by Shell Chemical Co.'s Kraton-brand liquid polymers.
Teknor Apex officials said its TPE markets are growing rapidly in ``soft-touch'' applications such as overmolded grips for toothbrushes, appliances, power tools and other products. Industry sources anticipate overall TPE growth will be 5-9 percent for the next several years.