M.A. Hanna Co. (Booth S3437), the Cleveland firm that ranks as one of North America's largest plastics compounders, is bringing a trio of new products and a new customer-focused approach to NPE 2000.
Hanna also is moving into the e-commerce arena with its hannaresindirect.com Web site, which will offer online buying.
"It's easy to say you're customer-focused, but it's hard to do it," said Garth Henry, Hanna's executive vice president of international operations. "We're organizing our staff around our customers' needs. Before we were just focused on selling products."
Hanna executives were interviewed about their NPE plans prior to the company's May 8 announcement of plans to merge with Avon Lake, Ohio-based compounder Geon Co.
The customer-focused strategy will recognize the differences among the injection molders, blow molders and other processors Hanna serves, as well as allow it to concentrate on value-added pricing and margins instead of volume, the company said.
Hanna sales representatives will offer several Hanna products, rather than have customers deal with different personnel for each material group.
Michael Rademacher, senior vice president of Plastics Americas, recalled a sales call he made with a Hanna color unit rep shortly after joining the company in January.
"The customer said, `What can you tell me about thermoplastic elastomers?' and the color salesman couldn't tell him because he didn't know," Rademacher said. "Our customers are saying they don't want three or four Hanna reps calling on them when each rep only has one arrow in his quiver."
On the new-product front, Hanna will unveil Thermatech thermally conductive compounds, Forprene thermoplastic vulcanizates and Ecomass thermoplastic-metal composites.
Thermatech can be compounded with several engineering resins and is expected to find uses in heating coils, under-the-hood automotive applications, business equipment and electronics. Fillers can alter its performance attributes.
Forprene TPVs are being introduced in North America after 15 years of European marketing by So.F.teR SpA, a Forli, Italy-based joint venture Hanna entered last year.
Forprene already is being used in auto applications by Fiat, Volkswagen, Ford and Volvo. In North America, those could include air intakes, drainage tubes and window tubing, said William MacIver, vice president of commercial operations at Hanna's Engineered Materials unit in Norcross, Ga.
"Forprene really fills a hole in our product lineup," MacIver said. "It's got a cost advantage over thermoset rubber and offers better high-heat and (ultraviolet-light) resistance than styrenic thermoplastic elastomers."
Ecomass, polyolefin-based compounds that can handle powdered-tungsten loadings of as much as 80 percent, is recyclable and will be targeted as a lead replacement in medical products like nuclear shielding for X-rays and syringes for chemotherapy, said Thomas Wilkinson, vice president of commercial compounds for Hanna's Engineered Materials division in Norcross, Ga.
The material also is drawing interest from private and government-owned ammunition companies as a possible raw material.
Thermatech is expected to sell for $20-$25 per pound, while Ecomass should command $10-$15 per pound. Forprene per-pound prices will range between $1.75 and $2.50.