SAN ANTONIO — Consolidation among composite materials distributors has accelerated in the past three years, and more consolidation is expected, according to one distributor.
A decade ago, the composites industry in the United States had about 120 distributors. Today, about 40-50 exist, said Patrick Mouligne, president of the Composite Materials Group of Bristol, R.I.
``The top three distributors — FRP, CMG and GLS — represent 63 percent of composites distribution business today,'' said Mouligne, who estimates the industry will generate 1998 sales of US$1.4 billion in the United States and Canada.
He referenced the Dublin, Ohio-based FRP Supply Division of Ashland Chemical Co., and Arlington Heights, Ill.-based GLS Composites Distribution Corp., a unit of GLS Corp.
Beyond those distributors, ``the fourth-largest is a third of the size of the others,'' Mouligne said at Composites '98, held Oct. 20-24 in San Antonio.
His new group has ``the best of both worlds,'' he said, with local operations and substantial financial backing. Composite Materials Group consolidated sales-and-buyer-leveraging assets of three businesses in January and completed a transition to six regional operations in June.
Besides Bristol, those regions are based in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.; Bellingham, Wash.; Rock Hill, S.C.; Elkhart, Ind.; and Mississauga, Ontario. The three businesses retain their identity.
CMI/Composite Materials Inc. employs about 200 and has 14 locations, mainly in the West, including British Columbia. CMI has a market share in the Carolinas as well.
RP Associates employs 36 and has locations in Bristol and Millville, N.J.
A Canadian affiliate, Progress Plastics, employs 75 and has a location in Drummondville, Quebec, as well as Mississauga. Founder Erwin Zecha owns 49.9 percent of Progress and continues to run the business as president.
Composite Materials Group generates about 5 percent of its sales from manufacturing customized niche products, Mouligne said. The products include specialty adhesives and epoxies.
Having achieved the group's first goal — ``to consolidate where we are and what we have'' — Mouligne is looking for more.
``We plan on continuing to expand and consolidate our territories,'' he said.
CMG is a distribution operation of Paris-based Total SA's chemical division. CMG has more than 100 suppliers, but 20 of those account for 80 percent of the business.
Included on the list of CMG's suppliers is sister company Cook Composites and Polymers, which is CMG's No. 1 gel coat supplier and among the top three resin suppliers, Mouligne said.