DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Nov. 28, 1:25 p.m. EST) — U.S. and German colorant companies that formed a commercial alliance last year now have expanded their reach into South America by adding Brazil's Cromex Brancolor Ltda. to their network, dubbed the International Colour Alliance.
Additionally, the alliance also now has operations in South Africa, following a recent acquisition by one of the partners, and is looking to expand eastward.
Chroma Corp. of McHenry, Ill., and Lifocolor Farben GmbH & Co. KG of Lichtenfels, Germany, already were working together, serving North America and Europe. Shortly before the late-October K trade fair in Dusseldorf, Lifocolor expanded south by purchasing Panacea Polymers (Pty.) Ltd. in Johannesburg, South Africa, according to Peter Bogle, Chroma's market development manager.
The alliance then announced at the show that it had welcomed to its fold the SÃ£o Paulo, Brazil-based Cromex, which employs 350, has annual sales of about $70 million, and yearly production capacity of 105 million pounds of masterbatches and additives.
Commenting on the rationale behind originally forming the alliance, Bogle said, “We saw a dire need for 100 percent correlation on formulations [worldwide]. Our competitors weren't doing that, and that was also our customers' perception.”
Each of the three privately owned partners supplies dispersion and custom formulations in pellet and liquid concentrates for polyolefins and engineering thermoplastic resins — principally for injection molding, blow molding and sheet extrusion applications. Together they operate 72 production lines in 11 plants, and generate approximately $150 million in annual sales.
There is no equity cross-ownership among the partners, Bogle said in a Nov. 19 telephone interview, but he added that the alliance is actively discussing joint-venture or acquisition possibilities in the Far East. “One or two locations are needed there,” he said.
Bogle described the current arrangement as one “very large information exchange,” with a group comprising technical personnel from each firm spending weeks at each of the alliance's production locations. He said eight or 10 of Chroma's customers already have broadened their activities with them overseas as a result of the new color alliance. He describes the similarities among the partners' respective customer bases as “amazing.”
Erika Angeli, Cromex's marketing manager, said two long-standing Brazilian color concentrate suppliers, Cromex Resinas and Plasticos Branco Ltd., merged three years ago to create Cromex Brancolor, and then invested in an industrial-park site and in new compounding machinery. The firm operates two plants in SÃ£o Paulo and one in SimÃµes Filho, Brazil. All three are ISO 9002-certified. Angeli said the firm sells throughout Latin America, and began marketing just a few months ago in Mexico, where Bogle noted Chroma already has three full-time sales people.
The 34-year-old Chroma, meanwhile, produces custom-formulated color, additive concentrates and precolor compounds from 27 lines at two plants in McHenry, where it employs a total of 150. It also makes liquid color concentrates at the Chicago Heights, Ill., plant of its Injecta Color Systems subsidiary.
The 100-employee Lifocolor, founded in 1978, supplies the European and select overseas markets from more than 20 extrusion lines at production sites in Germany, France, Poland and the Czech Republic. Few details were available on the recently acquired Panacea Polymers in Johannesburg, though Bogle said he understands the operation has fewer than 10 compounding lines.