CHICAGO (June 19, 6:10 p.m. EDT) — Americhem Inc., a color concentrate maker based in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, is introducing four new products, hoping to continue growth that has led the firm to add capacity at four of its seven plants in the past year.
The four new offerings are:
* PET concentrates for soft drink and beer bottles. The firm does some PET work, but is seeking growth in this segment as annual beverage demand increases.
* Chemical blowing-agents for PVC concentrates used in siding, as well as in a number of concentrates used in injection molding. The chemical blowing agents can serve to fill any excess space in molds when used in small amounts.
* Special-effects concentrates providing fluorescent, metallic and pearlescent looks, primarily in polyethylene and polypropylene compounds.
* Thermoplastic polyolefin concentrates for automotive exteriors and bumper fascias.
Americhem operates six plants in the United States, plus a plant in England. As of late May, the firm´s sales in 2000 were 20-30 percent ahead of the pace they were on in 1999, according to Frank Fire, Americhem´s executive vice president of sales, marketing and international.
Privately owned Americhem doesn´t release exact sales figures, but Fire said its 1999 sales were more than $100 million. Industry estimates place Americhem´s annual sales at $135 million, ranking it as one of the 25 largest compounders in the United States.
Americhem´s foreign sales are growing, Fire said. Foreign sales accounted for about 15 percent of Americhem´s business in 1999 after accounting for only 5 percent five years ago.
All of Americhem´s products are custom-formulated for specific customers. Nylon is its largest volume material, but the firm also does a good deal of polypropylene and ABS work for the automotive market. Fire said the firm can make concentrates for almost any thermoplastic or engineering resin.
Since the start of 1999, Americhem has added capacity at plants in Mansfield, Texas; Elgin, Ill.; Concord, N.C.; and at the second plant the firm opened in Cuyahoga Falls. The 3-year-old Cuyahoga Falls plant, which operates eight extrusion lines, is the company´s largest, with the Concord plant not far behind.
Although Americhem doesn´t reveal its employee totals, Fire said about one-third of its staff works at the firm´s two Cuyahoga Falls plants. About 40 percent of Americhem employees work in technical areas, a percentage that Fire said was probably higher than most of the firm´s competitors.
Americhem was founded as a manufacturer´s representative for the rubber industry in Akron in 1941. The company entered plastics manufacturing in the late 1950s and was completely out of the manufacturer´s rep business by the late 1960s.
The firm also remains largely a family business. Rick Juve is in his seventh year as Americhem´s chief executive officer. He followed his father, Dick, who was one of three buyers who purchased Americhem from its original owners in 1958.