Clariant Masterbatches will close its color compound plant in Lawrenceville, Ga., by April 6, eliminating 29 jobs.
Many Lawrenceville customers will be served by Clariant's Dalton, Ga., plant, about 100 miles north of Lawrenceville.
"The Lawrenceville plant was ... designed to serve high-volume customers within the U.S. market," Vice President Mark Potemans said in a telephone interview. "When Clariant merged with Hoechst in 1997, the company's strategy changed from a national focus to a regional one."
Although Potemans admitted the 2001 color compound market "looks tight," he added that the change in strategy, rather than reduced demand, was the biggest factor in Clariant's decision.
"The plant was a relic of a centralized production system," he said. "With a regional strategy, you don't need two plants within 100 miles of each other."
The 56,000-square-foot plant in Lawrenceville was built in the mid-1990s as part of Clariant's now-defunct ReedSpectrum division. It produced compounds based on polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene for use in a variety of markets, including packaging.
The site ran five compounding lines with total annual capacity of 10 million pounds. Those lines will be relocated to Dalton and other Clariant plants. Clariant plans to sell the property.
The Lawrenceville closing will leave Clariant with 13 plants in North America. Easton, Md.-based Clariant — the North American arm of Clariant International AG of Muttenz, Switzerland — ranks as one of North America's three largest color compounders, with 2000 sales of about $230 million.