To cut costs and respond to overseas competition, Saint-Gobain Calmar Inc. has shifted production of its trigger sprayers to an expanded facility and opened a new research center at the former plant site.
The company, based in City of Industry, Calif., also has settled a lawsuit with two household-products distributors over the use of alleged counterfeit sprayers that infringe on Calmar patents. Calmar believes those sprayers were made in China, South Korea and other Asian countries, said spokesman William Seiberlich.
The shift in trigger-sprayer production at two Midwest facilities also was made partly to combat foreign competitors, Seiberlich said. The company claims to be the world's largest producer of nonaerosol dispensing systems.
Calmar has added 51,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space to its Winfield, Kan., plant to consolidate sprayer production and reduce the need for outside storage. The expansion was completed in December at the facility, now at 150,000 square feet.
At the same time, the firm has moved production out of one of two sprayer plants in Lee's Summit, Mo., Seiberlich said. The facility was transformed into its new research and development center.
The center, completed in February and costing more than $1 million, will conduct product sampling, testing, tooling and development work for customers, Seiberlich said. The center coincides with recent capacity expansion in South America, Europe and Asia, he said.
The company shifted 13 injection molding machines and six assembly lines from Lee's Summit to Winfield, near Wichita, Kan., as part of the move. About 40 employees in Lee's Summit were laid off during the consolidation.
Ninety new employees were added in Winfield, some transferring from the Lee's Summit plant, Seiberlich said. Some others moved to Calmar's second production plant in Lee's Summit.
Besides sprayers, the Winfield plant makes nonaerosol plastic pumps and dispensing systems. The plant, with 240 employees, molds more than 160 million trigger sprayers and toothpaste dispensers annually, Seiberlich said.
The company also settled a lawsuit in February to stop the use of what it called inferior, counterfeit sprayers that it said violated its global patents and trademarks.
Product distributors Magic Creations of McKeesport, Pa., and Loomco International Inc. of Transfer, Pa., agreed to replace sprayers in their currently stocked products with those that do not infringe on Calmar patents, according to a Calmar release.
Officials at both Pennsylvania-based distributors said they had no information on the settlement.
The sprayers had been used for window-cleaner and pesticide bottles, Calmar officials said.
The civil suit, filed in January in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, was settled quickly out of court. The patented product is the world's best-selling trigger sprayer, Seiberlich said.
``All of Saint-Gobain's intellectual property rights are important to us, and we'll protect those rights,'' he said.
Calmar Inc. was bought by Paris-based Cie. de Saint-Gobain in 1998. Calmar ranked 30th on Plastics News' list of injection molders, with North American sales of $200 million in 2001.