Rehau Inc. is taking its PVC compounds to the open market.
Leesburg, Va.-based Rehau uses a majority of the PVC compounds it makes in Baie d'Urfe, Quebec; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Sturgis, Mich., internally in the component parts it extrudes for building and construction, heating and plumbing, agricultural and automotive markets. Starting about four years ago, Rehau began selling some of the material made in Baie d'Urfe and Winnipeg to a group of eight to 12 customers in the United States and Canada.
At NPE 2003, Rehau stepped up that effort, making its various flexible and rigid PVC compounds available to more injection molders and extruders, said Cece Goin, technical coordinator for compounds.
``Now, third-party sales are a growth business for us,'' Goin said. ``We're not just filling capacity; we want to make it a legitimate business unit within Rehau.''
The firm's flexible PVC compounds are engineered to meet auto industry specifications, and also are used in lawn and garden, tools and appliances, among other markets.
Rehau's rigid exterior PVC compounds go into windows, fence posts and caps, decking, dock planks and other exterior profiles. Its interior PVC compounds are engineered for thin and thick edge band, profiles, sheet and hot stamping.
The third-party sales program began as a result of Rehau's searching for new business options in the economic downturn, according to Goin. But as the company received more and more requests from outside processors, it realized that third-party sales ``could be a vital unit to grow and expand,'' she said.
The potential of competing with its own suppliers of PVC resins and compounds ``isn't a big concern'' for Rehau, since it is trying to target niche markets - like wire and cable and sheet compound - that it is not currently involved in, Goin said.
``We'd like to sell [PVC compounds] to custom extruders and molders who are buying small quantities of specialty materials, as opposed to big companies who are selling truckloads of the same product,'' she said.
Rehau also may sell its PVC compounds through a distributor as the business continues to grow. A new twin-screw extruder also is expected to be installed in Baie d'Urfe by the end of the year.
Also at NPE 2003, Rehau introduced a new grade of its Raupren-brand melt-processible PVC/synthetic rubber alloy. Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Nissan Corp. all have approved its use for such products as automotive weather seals, belt-line seals and windshield trim.
Production of the material - which incorporates thermoplastic vulcanizate technology - began earlier this year in Baie d'Urfe. The new grade also has been approved as a replacement for Ferro Corp.'s Alcryn-brand thermoplastic elastomer, Goin said.
Rehau is a division of processor Fraenkische Plastiks GmbH of Rehau, Germany. Rehau was No. 18 in Plastics News' most recent ranking of North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders, with related annual sales estimated at $185 million.