Three years after opening its doors, toll compounder Compounding Engineering Solutions Inc. continues to grow and is planning to add its third extrusion line in early 2003.
The new line will feature a 58-inch screw and will increase annual capacity at Clifton-based CES to 30 million pounds. The 15-employee firm also expects to add at least six staffers in 2003, according to Vice President Fred Burbank.
CES compounds a range of resins including polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, thermoplastic polyurethanes and liquid crystal polymers. The firm did a good deal of rubber compounding when it debuted in 1999, but does very little such work today, Burbank said in a recent interview in Clifton.
``We deal in a lot of different materials and volumes, but that's the toll business,'' Burbank said. ``Some jobs will last a week and some will last less than three days.''
Burbank and President Arash Kirani each had worked at machinery firm Krupp Werner & Pfleiderer Corp. in nearby Ramsey, N.J., for 10 years before identifying a need for a toll compounder in northern New Jersey.
``There really wasn't a sizable toll compounder in the area,'' Burbank said. ``We've been able to put together a cross-section of customers who want compounded products but don't want to invest in their own compounding lines.''
Burbank added that although some resin makers have taken compounding work in-house in the past year, CES has picked up business from large custom compounders.
CES still has a close relationship with Werner & Pfleiderer, which now is owned by Coperion Holding GmbH. All three CES extrusion lines came from W&P, and CES sometimes lets potential W&P customers use its machines for test runs.
CES said the lines are the only mega-compounding extruders operated by a toll compounder in North America. The lines offer increased output and performance via enhanced speed and torque settings.
CES can work with additives ranging from flame retardants to fiberglass to calcium carbonate and beyond, Kirani said. The firm has an average turnaround time of four to six hours.
The new machine represents an investment of $750,000 for CES. Burbank estimates the firm has room for two more machines in its 33,000-square-foot, leased space.
Unlike many toll compounders, CES has no interest in starting its own line of proprietary compounds, according to Burbank.
``Every toll compounder talks about it, but once you look into intellectual property and certifying, the costs get pretty high,'' he said.
Burbank credits Stan Jakopin with providing an inspirational business model. Jakopin operated custom compounder Advanced Polymer Compounding in Carpentersville, Ill., for a dozen years before selling to Ferro Corp. in 1999.
``Stan and APC ran the best product and they weren't at the low end of the business,'' Burbank said. ``They wouldn't just do anything for a quarter-penny less.
``That's the right approach - do the higher-end stuff and leave the rest to others.''