In the alphabet soup of today's plastics market, GE wants to assure processors that LNP is still LNP, even though it's GE.
Translated, that means LNP Engineering Plastics Inc. (Booths S2015, S2215), an engineering resins compounder in Exton, Pa., still is maintaining its identity and independence a year after it was acquired by industry giant GE Plastics of Pittsfield.
``I get asked that all the time,'' Charlie Crew, LNP president and chief executive officer, said of the LNP/GE question. ``I tell people my business card says LNP.''
At NPE 2003, LNP will unveil a 48-hour turnaround plan aimed at getting 80 of its more standardized compounds into the hands of customers within 48 hours of receiving an order.
And business cards aside, there are a number of ways LNP has benefited from the deal, in which GE bought LNP from Kawasaki Steel of Tokyo. Most prominent may be the $100 million investment LNP is making to expand capacity, technology, resources and personnel through 2005. The expansion will include:
* The addition of LNP compounding lines at or near existing GE Plastics facilities in Shanghai, China; and Campinas, Brazil.
* The opening of a 10-employee technology lab in Shanghai by the end of May.
* Increasing capacity by 15 percent at an LNP site in Malaysia.
* Adding 8,000 square feet of research and development space in Exton by the end of the year.
* Opening a ``white room'' technology center for LNP's Verton-brand long-fiber products in Columbus, Ind.
* Bringing GE Plastics specialty color compounding plants in Coburg, Ontario, and Milan, Italy, under the LNP umbrella.
``The change has been enormous at LNP, but [being bought by GE] has really opened up big areas of growth,'' Crew said at GE Plastics' pre-NPE press event April 10 in Pittsfield. ``LNP now has opportunities with [original equipment manufacturers] like Samsung and Ford and Canon that it wouldn't have had without GE. LNP wasn't of the size needed for those companies to deal with.''
Crew, a longtime GE veteran, calls that strategy ``leveraging GE's reach.''
The move also has affected new product development, where LNP is doing significant work with GE-made resins.
In the first half of 2003, LNP will commercialize Verton grades based on GE's Cycolac-brand ABS and Xenoy-brand polycarbonate/ polybutylene terephthalate alloys.
Grades of LNP's Lubriloy-brand compounds based on GE's Noryl-brand polyphenylene oxide also will be introduced.
Surprisingly, GE Plastics wasn't a major resin supplier to LNP before the deal.
``When I was at GE Plastics, I used to come to LNP and beg for orders,'' Crew recalled.
Now, the firms can work together and grow by having ``the polymer guy and the filler guy working on the same project,'' Crew said.
``[LNP] can take 35 base resins and use 250 different kinds of fillers to supply value that processors can't get from resin suppliers,'' he added.
Adding some of GE Plastics' custom compounding business to LNP - plus 15 percent natural growth - lifted LNP's sales from slightly less than $300 million in 2001 to a little more than $400 million last year.
LNP's sales face also has changed since the deal. About 70 percent of its customers in the Americas now buy LNP product through GE Polymerland, the resin distribution arm of GE. Of that number, 23 percent buy via the Internet, Crew said.