Resin distributor Network Polymers Inc. recently took a step into additives distribution.
The Akron, Ohio-based company has formed a relationship with Toronto-based additives maker and distributor Ed-Lynn Corp. The partnership, Ed-Lynn Network Group, expects to generate sales of $10 million in its first full year of operation.
``This is something different than the norm in plastics distribution,'' said Alan Woll, owner and chief executive officer of Network Polymers. ``An additives manufacturer usually sells directly [to compounders], but this arrangement allows us to still sell our own line and enhance it with the additive line from Ed-Lynn.''
A well-timed phone call led Network into the additives market.
In January 2002, Woll was looking up Hugh Wade, an old friend who had worked for Maribeni Corp.'s Canadian operations back when the Japanese firm had been a part owner of Network. Woll and Wade had lost touch, and Woll was saddened to learn that Wade had passed away only a few weeks earlier.
Wade's son Marc was considering selling a portion of the family's share in Ed-Lynn Corp. to a Japanese trading company. Richyu Chemical, a Taiwanese firm, owns a majority stake in Ed-Lynn, which was founded in the mid-1990s and produces antioxidants, ultraviolet-light stabilizers and other additives at a plant in Nantaou, Taiwan.
After Wade and Woll talked a few times, they realized their businesses could help each other.
Ed-Lynn Network will offer additives to its resin customers while allowing Ed-Lynn to reach compounders and concentrate makers that it normally would not come in contact with.
Woll operates Network jointly with Diamond Polymers, an ABS maker and compounder. Diamond's status as a direct user of some of the additives that Ed-Lynn distributes will give the new partnership increased credibility, he said.
Diamond's research and development staff also hopes to do development work for Ed-Lynn on new additives that could be produced at the Taiwanese plant. The plant employs 20 and has annual production capacity of 18 million pounds. Ed-Lynn has another 12 employees in Toronto.
``What's most unique about the partnership is that there are a minimum of steps involved,'' Marc Wade said. ``We're doing all the manufacturing, so it's really seamless.''
Woll credits the relationship he had with Hugh Wade with laying the groundwork for the Ed-Lynn Network partnership.
``Hugh and I always respected one another,'' he said. ``There was an immediate bond and trust there.''
Network also has been busy marketing its Softflex-brand thermoplastic elastomer alloys. New transparent grades of Softflex were commercialized early this year and are finding use in a number of cosmetic and aesthetic applications, officials said. The Softflex line offers superior overmolding ability with polycarbonate, ABS and PC/ABS substrates, according to Network.
Woll became Network/Diamond's sole owner when he bought out the share owned by Mitsubishi Rayon of Tokyo in August. Network/Diamond employs 75 and posted sales of almost $50 million in 2002. The firm has annual capacity to produce 60 million pounds of ABS, specialty styrenics and related compounds.