NEW LONDON, N.C. - Southern Pipe Inc. will invest nearly $7 million during the next two years to expand its plastic pipe-making capacity.
The New London-based company will add two extrusion lines to its 55,000-square-foot facility by this summer. The plant currently houses five lines. By the time the seventh line is installed, the company will be processing more than 60 million pounds of resin annually, President Bob Mitchell said in a May 17 telephone interview.
Also, watch for the company to expand in the Midwest - in Kentucky, Indiana or western Tennessee, he said.
``We're going to concentrate on electrical conduit and plan over the next seven years to have three to four plants across the country,'' Mitchell said.
Conduit now accounts for about 95 percent of the company's sales.
The firm also makes utility ducts and sewer pipe.
It is welcome growth for Southern, which experienced the same depressed margins that other PVC pipe manufacturers saw during the latter half of 2000.
``The last five or six months have been pretty rough,'' he said. ``This week, margins are starting to come back. We're back on continuous operation now. We think the rest of the year is going to be pretty good.''
Southern Pipe reported 2000 sales of $15 million, and Mitchell predicted a minimum of $20 million for this year.
``We anticipate $25 million in 2002,'' he said.
Mitten Vinyl expands with $2 million update
PARIS, ONTARIO - At a time when the vinyl siding industry is in decline, Mitten Vinyl Inc. is in the midst of a $2 million expansion.
The Paris company is depending on its regional niche and quality upgrades to carry it through the rough times, said Gary Ball, vice president of operations.
``We know it's a down market, but we're doing our best,'' said Ball. ``We're all dressed up and ready to go.''
They're ready to go with 40,000 square feet of manufacturing space, an increase of 15,000 square feet. The facility has six lines.
The firm ``hit the wall'' with 700,000 squares per year, Ball said. With the addition, its capacity will be 1.2 million squares. One square of siding equals 100 square feet.
``All major components will be in by the end of 2001,'' Ball said.
What Mitten has in place so far is a new mixing system. It also boasts an efficiency error factor of less than 1 percent, down from 10 percent, Ball said.
``We can grow our niche by 50 percent and not even hurt anyone,'' Ball said. ``We have a lot of offshore stuff. We have lots of new siding we're bringing on. Mitten has some nice, well-positioned product.''
Mitten reported 2000 sales of US$26.5 million.
Schmalbach expands PET capacity in India
RATINGEN, GERMANY - Schmalbach-Lubeca AG is expanding PET preform capacity in India, taking advantage of that country's huge and rapidly growing beverage market.
New business from customers including Nestle India Ltd. led Schmalbach to almost triple its output of PET bottle preforms at its Pune, India, plant to 330 million annually.
New equipment was installed in November.
India's mineral water market alone, with a current volume of about 400 million bottles, is expected to grow 25-30 percent next year, according to Ratingen-based Schmalbach.
Nestle just launched its Pure Life brand of mineral water in northern India.
Schmalbach is the exclusive supplier of the preforms that Nestle will use to blow mold 1-liter, embossed PET bottles for the product.
Next year, Nestle plans to distribute the product throughout India.
George Moore, president of the European/Asian arm of Schmalbach's PET Containers Division, said India's carbonated soft drinks and mineral water sectors are expected to grow 10-15 percent annually during the next four years.