Industrial blow molder Etimex USA Inc. is working closely with Tier 1 suppliers to expand its business in the automotive sector.
The Charlotte, N.C., firm expects sales to climb 20 percent next year from the projected level of $8 million in 2002, according to Adam Krusche, Etimex USA president and chief executive officer.
Although Etimex supplies all the major appliance manufacturers in North America, it also expects to make further inroads in automotive, Krusche said in a recent telephone interview.
Etimex USA will be assisted by its parent company's technology, developed and employed in Europe. Etimex Technical Components GmbH of Rottenacker, Germany, has come up with unusual, three-dimensional designs for fluid- and air-handling parts. It blow molds bellows, tubes and other components in configurations that save space and energy under vehicle hoods and in appliances.
Since the German parent supplies such products to European original equipment manufacturers, European transplants in North America are especially good business prospects for the Charlotte operation, Krusche said. Supplying the transplants ``is a big reason we are here,'' he said.
Etimex USA and its parent were created this year when BP Chemicals Ltd. agreed to sell its two remaining plastic processing businesses to management. Etimex USA was born from BP America PlasTec.
Besides the industrial blow molding business, a sister company producing containers and specialty films also changed identity. Etimex Primary Packaging GmbH of Dietenheim, Germany, does its own marketing in North America, Krusche said.
``We want to take a more aggressive approach to expanding the [blow molding] business,'' Krusche said when comparing the new ownership of his firm to its previous regime. Etimex USA will stress internal growth, which could include a new factory in Mexico.
The 38,000-square-foot site in Charlotte has enough land to double in size, but such a project could be several years away.
For now, Etimex USA is focused on filling out machine time for its nine blow molding machines, which have shot sizes of up to 41/2 pounds. Sales projections indicate four more machines will be needed within two years.
Etimex USA relies heavily on automation for blow molding and assembly, which cuts down labor requirements for time-consuming finishing steps, and in turn cuts costs and makes scheduling easier.
Krusche declined to comment on Etimex's main equipment supplier because the two companies have a close technical alliance.
The Charlotte operation began in 1997, more than 20 years after the predecessor company in Germany made a name for itself in technical blow molding. That firm, for example, claims to be the first to blow mold a seamless water-feed tube for appliances, Krusche claimed.
Krusche, a mechanical engineer, worked his way up the BP Chemicals PlasTec organization to become responsible for launching the firm's Charlotte plant.