SPI laments steel tariffs at fed hearing
NORWALK, CALIF. - The Bush administration's tariffs on steel are exacerbating an already-poor economic picture for some companies in the plastics industry, a trade group said at a government hearing Sept. 3.
For example, the tariffs have boosted steel prices for auxiliary equipment maker Universal Dynamics Inc. in Woodbridge, Va., by 20 percent, costing the company $100,000 a year, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. told a congressional field hearing in Norwalk. The company has been told to expect another steel price increase, SPI said.
Some plastics industry trade groups, like the American Mold Builders Association in Roselle, Ill., have said the tariffs are not hurting their members because steel for mold makers generally is exempt.
But Washington-based SPI said other plastics equipment suppliers have seen steel price increases of more than 35 percent during the past year. ITW Inc., which has some plastics processing divisions, estimates the tariffs will cost it $20 million, SPI said.
Bart Alcamo, president of RBK Tool and Die Inc. in Modesto, Calif., and an SPI board member, told the hearing of the House's Small Business Committee that while the tariffs have not hurt his company significantly, they have hurt the industry's ability to plan.
``While we strive, as a small company, to adapt to global changes, the mold-making side of the business has been in decline for about five years,'' he said. ``Therefore, the tariff increase works to exacerbate market conditions that have been eroding for several years, as my customers, who are uncertain about the future, are not investing.''
Pliant expands flexible packaging site
SCHAUMBURG, ILL. - Pliant Corp. has expanded a flexible packaging plant in Odon, Ind., adding capacity that complements its coextruded barrier film for food products.
The company is adding 12,000 square feet to the 20,000-square-foot plant, which makes film for cookies, crackers, cereal boxes and pizza overwrap.
The Schaumburg company recently installed a new, three-layer, high-volume film line in a newly built plant area and plans to add several additional lines, possibly in 2003, said spokeswoman Margaret MacBeth.
The plant had one five-layer and two three-layer film lines before the expansion.
Employment at the plant has increased by about 15 percent with the addition of the new film line, MacBeth said. She did not provide total employment figures for the plant.
The expansion work started a year ago, and a new line officially was dedicated Sept. 5.
MedSource buys implant maker Cycam
MINNEAPOLIS - Medical device maker MedSource Technologies Inc. acquired plastic orthopedic implant maker Cycam Inc. on Sept. 4 for about $24 million.
The purchase gives Minneapolis-based MedSource its first plastic capabilities in orthopedic implants, and includes both Cycam's plastic machining and compression molding technology, said Richard Effress, MedSource's chairman and chief executive officer.
Previously, MedSource could only machine metal implants, but wanted to broaden its offerings because most implants are made from metal and plastic, he said.
``It is an opportunity to provide a broader scope of services to our customers,'' Effress said.
Prior to the acquisition, orthopedics were about 10 percent of MedSource's $159 million in annual sales, he said. Privately owned Cycam, in Houston, Pa., does about $10 million in annual sales.
Cycam specializes in hip, knee and shoulder implants, chiefly from ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene. Effress said MedSource also made the purchase because of Cycam's patented coating process for bonding implants, and because it gives MedSource access to a broader base of orthopedic device makers.
Cycam also has some metals processing capabilities that MedSource lacks, he said.
Effress said Cycam's compression molding technology is unusual. Typically, plastic implants are machined but the compression technology ``is another way of getting to the same place'' and has some advantages, he said.
MedSource paid $18 million in cash and 667,000 shares of company stock.