OptiColor, a specialty color compounder based in Huntington Beach, Calif., installed a second single-screw extruder earlier this year, doubling its annual capacity to 2 million pounds.
OptiColor specializes in transparent plastic grades used in products ranging from optical lens filters to color sunglasses to transparent auto parts. Typically, OptiColor will produce a specialty color concentrate and sell it to a resin maker that will mix the product further before selling it to a processor, OptiColor President Dan Neufeld said.
Neufeld founded OptiColor in 1995 after 15 years in the compounding industry. From the start, OptiColor focused on transparent plastics, a niche that Neufeld said was not being served.
Smaller compounders can provide the attention needed to produce such intricate compounds, while larger firms may find such work more difficult, Neufeld said.
``Big compounders have their place, but not every business is the same,'' he added. ``You can't make flowerpots and Oakley sunglasses with the same material.''
Most of OptiColor's compounds are based on polycarbonate, acrylic and styrene acrylonitrile,
It employs six at a 6,000-square-foot site. Although the firm is on the West Coast, its sales are national, with two of its largest customers east of the Mississippi.
OptiColor posted sales of $1.5 million in 2000 and expects to match that number in 2001 because of the slowing economy. The firm had averaged 50 percent annual growth in its first five years of operation, Neufeld said.