Irwin Research & Development Inc. and ISAP OMV Group SpA have formed a 50-50 joint venture and plan to construct a manufacturing facility near Irwin's headquarters plant in Yakima, Wash. An agreement to establish the venture, Irwin OMV Technology Inc., was signed May 9 at OMV's headquarters in Verona, Italy. The venture will design, make and service complete extrusion, thermoforming, mold and product-handling systems.
The first joint product may reach the market in the second or third quarter of 2001.
"We have been intrigued with [President] Jerry Irwin and his machines and felt it could be a good match," Kent Johansson, president of group subsidiary OMV USA Inc., said in a telephone interview from his office in Genoa City, Wis.
OMV USA provides sales and service in North and South America.
Irwin will contribute thermoforming equipment now under development as an advanced starting point for the new operation, said Roger Underwood, Irwin sales director.
Irwin has strengths in thin-gauge, expanded polystyrene processing and downstream trim- press technology.
OMV makes complete turnkey systems and is known for its in-mold trim technology and polypropylene processing.
"We do not have enough capacity in Verona" to meet market demand and "not enough time to start from scratch" with a North American factory, Johansson said. OMV USA employs five. He said the unit has experienced success in the North American market in recent years.
Further discussions between Irwin and OMV next month will pin down details about the new plant and its requirements.
The venture is expected to offer a thermoformer with larger sheet width that either Irwin or OMV sells now.
Irwin Research & Development employs 290, occupies about 150,000 square feet in several nearby buildings and has annual sales of about $25 million, Underwood said. Irwin's extensive machining operations will be available to the new plant.
Three operations within the privately held ISAP OMV Group employ 475 and have annual sales of more than $140 million. The ISAP unit was formed in 1953 and thermoforms plastics, particularly PP and PS, at plants in Verona; on the Italian island of Sicily; and near Barcelona, Spain. OMV was started in 1963 and builds machines in Verona. A third unit, FAR, makes electronic controls near Verona.
Irwin and OMV will continue existing businesses while working together globally on sales of current and joint venture products.