Costa Rica thermoforming venture begins
JANESVILLE, WIS. — Prent Corp. has opened a thermoforming joint venture in San Jose, Costa Rica, with RTC Termo Formas SA.
The venture, launched in March, operates a 15,000-square-foot plant with at least one thermoforming machine and employs about eight people. By the year's end, the firm would like to have three thermoforming machines and about 25 employees. Eventually, it will move to a different facility to accommodate increased business, said Prent marketing manager John MacDougall.
Prent-RTC Termo Formas serves the medical, electronic and consumer markets with materials such as glycol-modified PET and electrostatic-dissipative materials.
Prent is based in Janesville and operates plants there and in Flagstaff, Ariz. Overseas, the company has manufacturing joint ventures in Malaysia and the Netherlands. Last year, the company placed No. 16 in Plastics News' North American thermoformers ranking, with estimated sales of $60 million.
Woodbridge expands in Mexico, Canada
TROY, MICH. — Woodbridge Group is expanding in Mexico and Canada.
The Troy-based firm said it will add a third polyurethane manufacturing line at its Cuautitlan, Mexico, joint venture with Poliuretanos S.W. SA de CV. The operation makes energy-absorbing PUR foam for auto side-impact-resistance systems, and headrests and armrests for seats.
The new line will make Woodbridge's Enerflex foams when the expansion is complete by July 31. The program also involves a 30,000-square-foot addition.
Woodbridge also opened an Enerflex plant in Sarnia, Ontario, as auto manufacturers increase their use of PUR foam for occupant protection during auto collisions and rollovers.
The new, 76,000-square-foot plant is scheduled to begin production in mid-April. Woodbridge chose Sarnia because of availability of workers, proximity to customers in Michigan and ``cooperation from the community,'' said spokeswoman Christina Carene.
Woodbridge did not disclose the cost of either project.
Lear acqiures Peregrine plant in Canada
SOUTHFIELD, MICH. — Lear Corp. has expanded its seat assemblies and plastic interior door panels business by acquiring assets of Peregrine Windsor Inc.
Peregrine's Windsor, Ontario, facility supplies parts for several General Motors Corp. vehicles, said Lear spokeswoman Karen Stewart. The 700,000-square-foot plant employs about 1,000, she estimated in a telephone interview. Lear would not disclose annual sales of the operation or terms of the purchase from Peregrine Inc., which is based in Southfield.
Seeking a buyer for itself, Peregrine Inc. recently hired investment banking firm BT Alex Brown. The company had been purchased only last May by turnaround specialist Jay Alix and other investors after it lost more than $50 million in 1997. Peregrine's assets include an auto parts injection molding operation in Oshawa, Ontario, and three metal-stamping plants in Michigan.
Peregrine officials could not be reached for comment on other potential asset sales. Stewart said Lear would not disclose if it has any interest in other Peregrine assets. Southfield-based Lear had 1998 sales of $9.1 billion.
Eastern Molding reopening after blaze
BATAVIA, N.Y. — Eastern Molding International, custom blow molder based in Batavia planned to reopen April 12, 12 days after a fire destroyed 80 percent of its plant.
The fire destroyed all but 12,000 square feet of the 60,000-square-foot site, but spared five of the company's seven blow molding machines and its inventory of 500,000 pounds of plastics resin, said Frank Rhoden, vice president of operations.
Support equipment for the blow molding units — including loading systems, chillers and towers — also were spared in the blaze.
``We'll have three of our remaining machines up Monday and all five up by the end of the week,'' Rhoden said.
Rhoden added that Eastern Molding owner Jerry Reinhart, who recently acquired the 30-year-old business, plans to rebuild the full facility.
Most of Eastern Molding's inventory of finished goods — primarily large blow molded parts made of high density polyethylene for use in the lawn and garden and child care markets — was destroyed in the fire. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
Eastern Molding, which employs 61, is unsure of the amount of its financial loss.