DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Ampacet Corp. is investing heavily to extend its reach around the globe.
The Tarrytown, N.Y., masterbatch manufacturer has formed a joint venture in Argentina, is building new plants in that country and in Thailand and expanding existing facilities in Belgium, Italy and Canada.
This follows its acquisition this summer of Kitchener, Ontario-based Baron Colour Concentrates Ltd., which added two Canadian plants and a Huntersville, N.C., plant to its fold.
Ampacet is on pace to record roughly $400 million in sales this year. The company is investing some $60 million, in a period of less than 24 months that will end in the first quarter of 2000, according to Howard W. England, senior vice president of manufacturing. A company newsletter distributed at K'98 in Dusseldorf stated that Ampacet now holds a 15 percent share of the worldwide market for masterbatches, and that ``expansions and other new plans now being implemented will raise our share to 17.5 percent in the year 2001.''
In late September, Ampacet signed a deal with family-owned Biblos Color SA near Buenos Aires, Argentina, to create Ampacet de Argentina SA. Biblos, with more than 35 years of experience in the color and additive masterbatch business, operates a plant in the Argentine capital, another small production facility in San Miguel, Chile, near Santiago, and has sales and distribution centers throughout Argentina.
The family swapped its holdings in the business for a stake of more than 30 percent in Ampacet de Argentina, according to Alejandro Biblos, international sales manager of the new company.
Ampacet has purchased a 10-acre site about 20 miles north of Buenos Aires and has begun engineering work on a green-field plant that it intends to begin operating by early 2000. The facility will employ 60 and add 25 million to 28 million pounds of capacity, England said in an interview at the K show.
When the new facility is ready, Ampacet will outfit it with production equipment from the two Biblos plants, England said. Pete Ambler, manufacturing director in Tarrytown, becomes the new general manager of Ampacet de Argentina in January.
At the same time, the firm also has been busy in Asia, creating Ampacet Thailand and completing the purchase of another 10-acre site on which it intends to build another new production facility. Construction on that plant, near Rayong, northeast of Bangkok, should begin in February.
England said that unit also will be able to produce 25 million to 28 million pounds of product per year, but with an emphasis on biaxially oriented polypropylene masterbatches.
``The baht has been relatively stable and has strengthened against the dollar,'' England noted, adding that Thailand is showing signs of being the first Southeast Asian country to recover from the region's economic crisis. ``It will take 12-18 months to improve, but it will take us 14 months to build the plant,'' he said.
In mid-October, Ampacet Europe SA nearly doubled the production capacity of its Messancy, Belgium, plant by adding some 37 million pounds per year of highly dispersed black masterbatches.
Ampacet Europe's small plant in Telgate, Italy, near Bergamo, is adding a little more than 13 million pounds of capacity to produce additive and color concentrates by the third quarter of 1999. The move will boost the plant's output by about 45 percent, England said.
And in Kitchener, at one of the Canadian plants Ampacet acquired via its purchase of Baron Colour, the firm is adding 8 million to 10 million pounds of capacity for white, commodity-type concentrates, according to England. That capacity should be available by year's end.
He said Ampacet's volume sales will be up 18-20 percent this year in Europe over 1997, and up 12-14 percent in the United States. ``We're very dominant in the U.S. film market,'' he said, ``and we're trying to expand our activities more into pipe and blow molding.''
Though England said 1999 in the United States might be a tougher year, the free-spending Ampacet is undeterred.
``We feel fairly bullish,'' he said.