WHARTON, N.J. — Daicel Polymer Compounds Inc. has revamped its product mix in the past 18 months and now is focused on producing proprietary compounds developed by its parent company, Daicel Chemical Industries Ltd. of Tokyo.
The Wharton company has reorganized itself quickly since a management change in October 1997. At that time, Daicel Polymer, then known as Dynepco, was doing about two-thirds of its business in toll compounding, even though Daicel had owned the firm for 11 years.
``Daicel thought focusing on proprietary products was a better way to grow the company,'' Daicel Polymer Vice President Russell Nichols said in a recent interview in Wharton. ``As a result, we more than doubled our sales of proprietary compounds from 1997-98.''
Daicel Polymer now produces about 80 proprietary compounds, compared with the 30-40 it was producing in 1997. The refocusing was a big step for the firm, which was founded by a group of former AlliedSignal Inc. employees in 1972.
The company's compounds primarily are based on ABS and styrene acrylonitrile, although it does produce some highly specialized polystyrene and polycarbonate compounds as well as alloys of ABS with PC, nylon and polybutylene terephthalate.
``A major thrust is in flame-retardant technology, in both halogenated and nonhalogenated products,'' Nichols said. ``We're not a supplier of generic, plain-vanilla ABS.''
Nichols, who has almost 30 years of industry experience, joined Daicel in 1997 after a year of working with the firm as a consultant. His previous stops included stints at pipe extruder Hancor Inc. of Findlay, Ohio, and machinery maker Farrel Corp. of Ansonia, Conn.
Daicel Polymer now can produce 25 million pounds of compounds annually on seven single-screw extruders and two twin-screw extruders in a 100,000-square-foot plant that employs 30. The company has room to expand at the site, which it opened in 1993, but no additions are planned this year.
The firm's largest markets are in business machines and electronics. Daicel Polymer has seeded its business through contracts with the North American operations of other Japanese-owned companies, but now is looking to expand beyond that circle of customers.
``We're bullish about our opportunities,'' Nichols said. ``Because we're niche players, we can react quickly and not deal a lot with the bureaucracy other companies have to deal with.''
An example of this agility is a recent agreement between Daicel Polymer and BASF Corp. of Mount Olive, N.J., that will allow Daicel to produce small color runs of BASF's Terluran-brand ABS.
``Those kind of runs are our forte, but they're [a larger company's] nightmare,'' said Daicel Polymer materials manager Tony Noriega.
Daicel Polymer still does one-third of its business in toll work, but now focuses only on tolling that fits with its existing product mix.
``When we made the change in 1997, we had to tell some toll customers that their business didn't fit in with our new plan,'' Nichols said. ``It was difficult, but it was what we needed to do.''