Resin distribution powerhouse General Polymers has expanded the role of Vice President and General Manager David Bening to include oversight of Ashland Plastics-Europe.
``Ashland Plastics-Europe and General Polymers had been managed totally independently, with very little other than extreme arms-length interaction,'' Bening said by telephone. ``As the business gets more global, we felt it was needed for the two sides to participate together and leverage our knowledge more.''
The units shared some common resin suppliers, but their management had little interaction, said Bening. Dublin, Ohio-based GP distributes engineering and commodity resins for 26 resin makers and compounders. Ashland Plastics-Europe does the same type of work for about a dozen suppliers.
There can be some crossover between the two units, such as supplying the same customer in both regions, but the European resin distribution market also has some differences from its North American counterpart, he said.
``Resin deliveries in the U.S. are commonly done by rail car which we then break down into bulk,'' he said. ``In Europe, up to 90 percent of deliveries are in bags. Even the gauge of rail line can be different, which makes rail-car deliveries stop at the border. It's a different value proposition.''
After a sizable slump in resin sales in 2001, Bening said GP has seen ``cautious optimism'' as orders increased in the early part of 2002.
``We're seeing some customers start to pick up demand, so there's been some tentative growth,'' he said. ``There's a lot of strength on some polyolefins, especially with capacity being drawn back. Automotive's been giving us a lot of business, along with small and midsize customers making construction products and durable goods.''
Sales of polyethylene and polypropylene to distributors in the United States and Canada dropped 14 percent - or almost 223 million pounds - in 2001, according to the American Plastics Council in Arlington, Va.
Bening, a 23-year veteran of GP and its corporate parent Ashland Inc., replaced GP founder Daniel McGuire at the unit's helm in July 1999.
In related moves, Michael Ojile has been promoted to global source management director for North America and Europe for both GP and Ashland Plastics-Europe and Gianpaolo Armando has been named Ashland Plastics-Europe's European sales and marketing director. Ojile has been with Ashland since 1983, while Armando joined the firm in 1998.
GP ranks as one of North America's largest resin distributors, with 22 district warehouses in the region and annual sales estimated at $1 billion.