Extruder maker Reifenhauser Inc. has invested $3 million in a new headquarters in Ipswich, Mass., that features a high-ceiling area to demonstrate blown film machinery. The company also has added the sales responsibility for South America. Sales to that region had been handled out of Germany by parent company Reifenhauser GmbH & Co. Maschinenfabrik, which has closed its assembly factory in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Reifenhauser Inc. now covers all of the Americas, said Chris Nicholls, its managing director.
Nicholls, A 15-year Reifenhauser veteran, took the top U.S. spot in mid-1999.
In January, Reifenhauser moved from Lawrence, Mass., to Ipswich. At 19,100 square feet, the Ipswich factory is only slightly larger than the Lawrence facility, but it has a better layout.
"The key difference is the usable space in this facility," Nicholls said. The Lawrence facility had low ceilings, so setting up a blown film tower was impossible. The Ipswich building has a bay with a 45-foot-high ceiling, part of a laboratory that measures 3,800 square feet. Reifenhauser will install a three-layer blown film line in the space.
Reifenhauser GmbH ships the extruders from its headquarters factory in Troisdorf, Germany, to Ipswich. The U.S. operation does final assembly and adds controllers, electronics and barrels designed for North and South America.
In other news, Nicholls said the U.S. outfit will see no impact from the decision by parent Reifenhauser to get out of the pipe and profile extruder business. "It doesn't affect us at all," he said, because the firm did not market that type of equipment in the United States.
In January, Reifenhauser announced it sold its pipe extruder business to Hans Weber Maschinenfabrik GmbH of Kronach, Germany. Reifenhauser sold its profile machinery business two years ago.
In Brazil, Nicholls said the company began to scale back production at its Sao Paulo plant about five years ago, as trade barriers fell and Latin American processors became more comfortable buying imported equipment. Reifenhauser is supplying the region with machines built in Germany. The company has licensed a Sao Paulo company, Siladipe, to machine spare parts and components.
Nicholls said Reifenhauser Inc.'s three main North American markets are blown film, cast film and sheet lines for thermoforming polypropylene, polystyrene and PET.
The German firm continues to be owned by the Reifenhauser family, after the Nov. 11 death of 85-year-old Hans Reifenhauser, who pushed the company into plastics machinery after World War II. Several years ago, he formed an advisory board and a family holding company to run the firm.