CHICAGO (July 15, 10:30 a.m. EDT) — Asahi Thermofil has completed a major expansion that doubled the size of its Fowlerville, Mich., compounding plant and added four new resins to its product mix.
The project added 90,000 square feet to the facility, which was opened in 1999. The site's total capacity — counting an eighth line to be installed in August — will stand at 280 million pounds annually.
Thermofil, historically a major polypropylene compounder, now can produce compounds based on Xyron-brand polyphenylene ether, Leona nylon 6/6, Tenac acetal, and polycarbonate — all supplied by Asahi Kasei Plastics.
Both Asahi Thermofil and Asahi Kasei Plastics are part of Asahi Kasei Corp., a major, Tokyo-based maker of chemicals and plastics that acquired Thermofil from Nippon Steel Chemical Co. Ltd. of Tokyo in 2000.
“The goal [of the expansion] was to be a lot bigger and more productive,” said Asahi Thermofil President Randy Rudisill.
“The expansion maximizes our flexibility and gives us higher throughput,” added business manager Jim West.
Asahi will operate separate sales staffs for its PP and engineering resin lines, with the engineering resin unit doing business as Asahi Kasei Plastics America Inc.
“We wanted to make sure both sides achieved their goals,” Rudisill said of the decision to split the sales effort. “And we didn't want to confuse our customers.”
Asahi Kasei also has decided it won't distribute materials that it produces in Asia unless it also compounds them in the United States.
“We're not a distributor,” Rudisill said. “We want to be a local company with local production.”
Asahi Kasei's Yuzo Nishiguchi said the parent firm has been pleased with the Thermofil business in the three years since the acquisition.
“We've got good facilities here, with good infrastructure and location,” said Nishiguchi, who is general manager of sales and marketing for performance plastics and compounds. “This will allow us to grow our engineering resins business and expand our good relationships with transplanted Japanese automakers.”
Thermofil posted 2003 sales of about $105 million.