Specialty Filaments Inc. is consolidating its manufacturing operations in upper Vermont. The company, which makes filaments for brushes and a variety of other applications, does extrusion, injection molding and structural foam molding.
``The company has gone through quite a metamorphosis over the past 18 months,'' President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel J. Boehm said in a recent telephone interview.
The biggest change came in August when former minority partner Capital Resource Partners, a Boston-based investment firm, bought the U.S. operations. The new owner kept the Specialty Filaments name and headquarters location in Andover, Mass. But since then the company has closed a plant in Columbia, S.C., and recently began relocating its Molded Products Division from Leominster, Mass., to Middlebury, Vt. Specialty Filaments will keep the Leominster site as a warehouse and distribution center.
The Columbia and Leominster plants each had about 25 workers, and some key employees will relocate to Vermont, Boehm said. The changes will add 50-65 jobs in Middlebury and will take advantage of state tax incentives, said Boehm, who had been general manager of the U.S. operations before the purchase.
Boehm said the changes streamline the company and put all research and development activities close to its manufacturing base. Specialty Filaments employs about 400 and has an 80,000-square-foot plant in Middlebury and a 100,000-square-foot facility in Burlington, Vt.
Teaming up engineering with manufacturing will allow the company to promote rapid prototyping of new products, a key growth area, he said. Specialty Filaments also has launched an applications lab, allowing its engineers to serve distinct markets and work directly with customers. The plan is to use molded product technology to develop new product designs and additives.
Overall, Specialty Filaments has more than 50 extrusion lines, six multistation structural foam machines and three injection molding machines with clamping forces of 300-770 tons.
The Middlebury facility makes filaments for industrial, paint brushes, abrasives, spiral bind and construction markets, as well as specialty applications. The Burlington operation makes filaments for the sanitary supply, commercial, toothbrush and consumer goods markets.
Specialty Filaments was known as Apex Specialty Materials Inc., which combined four companies back in the 1990s. Among those were Whiting Co. of Burlington and Polymers Inc. of Middlebury.