Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the ASEANplas 99 trade show, held March 23-26 in Singapore.
Conair looking into India, China market
Conair Group Inc. is evaluating how best to sell auxiliary equipment to plastics processors in India and China, said Dan Summerville, director of Conair's operations there.
``We want to be solid in Asia,'' Summerville said. Conair established offices in Singapore in 1985, the Philippines in February 1997 and Taiwan in May 1998. The offices have 13, three and four employees, respectively.
``We are selling into China and India'' and may supplement the current representatives' activity in the next 12-24 months, he said. ``We can do more.''
The region experienced ``peaks and valleys'' during 1998, when sales dropped 17 percent from the previous year. Summerville said December through March sales were very encouraging, particularly in robotic systems, where Conair plans to hire another person.
Battenfeld develops its molding niches
Persisting through rough times, Battenfeld Group's Singapore-Malaysia sales operation aims to develop niche markets where plastics processors have the potential to mold value-added products, said Johann Taufenegger, managing director of Battenfeld Injection Molding Technology Singapore Pte. Ltd.
The niches include hybrid, insert, multimaterial and structural foam molding, Taufenegger said.
In December, Battenfeld established a Hong Kong subsidiary that employs eight who formerly worked for a Battenfeld agent.
``This agency decided it was better to cease operations,'' he said.
``We cannot afford — I think no one can afford — to close down and say, `We go home now,' and, say after three to four years, when there is an opportunity to make a quick buck, `We come back,''' he said. ``We would not be welcome, especially in Asia where they have long memories.''
In early April, Battenfeld expects to reach an agreement with a sales agency in the Philippines, Taufenegger said.
Battenfeld of Meinerzhagen, Germany, entered the market in 1973; Taufenegger joined there in 1983. His office employs six, covering Singapore and Malaysia.
Breyer sees drop in SE Asian business
Extrusion line manufacturer Breyer GmbH saw its Southeast Asia business drop to about 5 percent of last year's total sales from a normal 20-25 percent, said sales manager Rainer Hespeler.
``Big demand ended for the moment,'' Hespeler said. ``Still, some customers invest.''
Breyer is filling a South Korean order for a sheet line.
In 1997, an Indonesian customer ordered an extrusion line valued at US$650,000 in May and, following the economic onslaught, cancelled the order in December, Hespeler said. Singen, Germany-based Breyer withheld a portion of the deposit to fund a reconfiguration and returned the remainder. Another buyer took the machine.
Breyer employs 220 in Germany, had 1998 sales of 50 million German marks (US$29.8 million) and operates in Southeast Asia through 10 sales and service agents. Breyer showed a new generation of calenders at ASEANplas.