Natvar Co. of Clayton, N.C., has forged two new alliances for its extruded plastic tubing business.
The company has formed a partnership with extruder Rubicon Medical of West Valley City, near Salt Lake City, Utah, to provide backing and support for Rubicon's high-tech, specialty tubing products.
Rubicon uses a closed-loop, ``bubble'' extrusion method to make tubing with variable inside and outside diameters. Such tubing can be made so that long, funnel-shaped lengths can be joined together without fittings, Bob Holme, vice president of marketing for Natvar, said in an Oct. 27 telephone interview.
``The partnership will give [Rubicon] the financial and equipment resources to reach a critical sales mass,'' Holme said. ``They've gotten in the door at a number of big medical companies, they just need the backing of a big-name supplier in order to close the sale.''
The deal will involve a change in the ownership structure at the companies, but the details have not been worked out and Holme said he couldn't talk about them.
He did say the combined venture plans to hire a production engineer for the Salt Lake plant. Up to a dozen more production people could be hired in the next 18 months as the business grows, Holme said.
Natvar's other venture takes them from the snow-capped Rockies to tropical breezes.
The company has teamed up with Valnet Medical Corp., a medical device fabricator in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, to bring a tubing extrusion operation to the island.
While some companies have captive tubing lines on the island, most tubing is shipped in from the United States to be assembled into its final form, Holme said.
``Valnet thought it was really critical to have on-site extrusion,'' Holme said. ``It will take a lot of cost out of the equation.''
Natvar is buying a new extrusion line for its Clayton plant, and transferring an existing line from Clayton to Puerto Rico, Holme said. The joint venture, which will be known as Natvar Caribe, has already hired a manager and expects to talk on about six new production people in Puerto Rico.
Natvar, which has production plants in Clayton and Lakewood, Colo., does about 80 percent of its business in medical tubing, but also supplies the electrical, automotive, aerospace and appliance markets. The company reported $17 million in sales in 1997. Internal growth and sales from the alliances will offset the recent sale of Natvar's sleeving operations, bringing the company predicted 1998 sales of $17 million again, Holme said.