North American Technologies Group Inc. will invest more than $3 million to double manufacturing capacity at its TieTek Inc. subsidiary.
The Houston-based maker of composite railroad ties said the expansion should be complete early next year. North American Technologies will double the current facility to 50,000 square feet and add one production line. The firm's 250-pound rail ties replace wood soaked with creosote, the coal-tar distillate used as a preservative.
``We're adding physical plant space and we're going to improve road and rail access,'' President Henry Sullivan said in a July 22 telephone interview.
North American Technologies will add about 25 employees to its current 20. The firm also plans to seek an additional location in 2003.
``We will configure the new plant to produce significantly more TieTek composite railroad crossties with a range of performance properties and sizes required by our customers,'' Sullivan said.
The publicly held firm began commercial production of its ties in 1998. With the additional capacity, the company will be able to produce 20,000 ties per month. Since its inception, TieTek has produced more than 55,000 ties, which are being used in the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
``We have learned to use recycled plastics, and plastics and rubber technology to make a product that's totally interchangeable with wood,'' Sullivan said. ``We've now got ties in multiple states and countries. They're doing well in a lot of places. It's a plastic part that has performed under load. It's a viable alternative to wood.''
For 2001, North American Technologies reported a net loss of nearly $4.4 million on sales of $1.6 million. The company attributed the loss to ramping-up operations for the crosstie business and corporate overhead. The firm's major customers include Union Pacific Railroad, plus other Class 1 and short-line railroads.