Rapid Granulator Inc. has closed its 14-employee plant in Goose Creek, S.C., responding to a plunge in demand for granulators.
The 5-year-old factory closed May 22, said Carl Caldeira, Rapid's president and chief executive officer. Rapid shifted all manufacturing activities back to its plant in Rockford, Ill., although the company will maintain a small sales office in the Charleston, S.C., area.
Caldeira said the company may sell the 35,000-square-foot Goose Creek building, but no final decision has been made.
Caldeira said granulator demand has dropped by 50 percent in the last five or six years. The granulator business also has been hit with the recent crash in injection molding machine sales - a major indicator of sales for granulators. According to the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., in the first-quarter of 2001, U.S. shipments of injection presses dropped by 42 percent from the fourth quarter of last year.
In a written statement, Caldeira said: ``Financial considerations as well as new manufacturing methods and the demand for price-competitive products'' prompted the decision to close the Goose Creek plant.
Rapid Granulator is owned by Sewickley Capital Inc., a Pittsburgh holding company that also owns Pittsburgh auxiliary equipment maker Conair Group.
Caldeira said Rapid and Conair continue to operate as independent companies. Conair is both a customer and a competitor to Rapid, he said in a telephone interview June 28.
Caldeira said Rapid Granulator will be well-positioned when the machinery market does turn around because the company is gaining market share during the downturn, and it remains the market leader.