Teknor Apex Co. is completing a major expansion of its Asian operations while launching new grades of its PVC and thermoplastic elastomer-based compounds.
Pawtucket, R.I.-based Teknor also is touting the abilities of the toll compounding service it launched last year. In Asia, a new, 100,000-square-foot manufacturing laboratory and office complex is nearing completion for Singapore Polymer, the 18-line compounding operation that Teknor purchased in late 2001. The acquisition was Teknor's first outside of North America.
The expansion will be used to produce Teknor's thermoplastic elastomers, black and white masterbatches and engineering resin compounds. A new, 100,000-square-foot PVC compounding plant at the site was completed in mid-2002.
Although the Singapore projects had been in motion when Teknor appeared on the scene, the firm still was able to put its stamp on the operation.
``The way we've configured the lines in Singapore is much more consistent with how we operate in the North American market,'' Teknor President Jonathan Fain said. ``That allows us to give customers consistency in both regions.''
High growth rates in Asia have helped Teknor's sales base, 25 percent of which now is outside of the United States.
``It looks like [outside of the United States] is where most of our growth is right now,'' said Fain. ``We've followed that demand, and that's changed the way we look at our products and markets. It's exciting, but complicated.''
Debuting on the Teknor front are new, supersoft, low-hardness grades of the company's Uniprene thermoplastic vulcanizates and plasticizer-free FreeFlex PVC compounds.
The Uniprene TPVs offer exceptional softness in grips, gaskets and weatherstripping, while FreeFlex PVC can avoid brittleness in hose and tubing used in fluid transport, as well as in tank and pond liners, according to company officials.
Teknor's new line of Teklite-brand color concentrates, also introduced at NPE 2003 in Chicago, are aimed specifically at TPEs, where they can achieve savings by reducing overall concentrate usage, officials said.
``In PVC, we're trying to expand our applications so we're not just replacing other vinyl, we're creating new applications,'' said Bert Lederer, Teknor senior vice president.
``Our color projects have a different, more cosmetic appeal, and in TPEs, we're extending and filling out our product lines.''
The tolling operation - Teknor Specialty Compounding - primarily operates from plants in Lodi, Ohio, and Jacksonville, Texas, but can access capacity at Teknor's other plants as well. It offers extensive services in compound and concentrate production, as well as in powder blends and polyolefin pulverizing.
Teknor also recently added compounding capacity at sites in Henderson, Ky., and Jacksonville, Texas.
Teknor posted sales of about $500 million last year, including $300 million from its plastic operations. The firm also makes specialty chemicals and rubber, and is a major producer of garden hose.
As a compounder, Teknor ranks as one of North America's 30 largest, according to a recent Plastics News survey, and is the largest nonintegrated PVC compounder in the United States.
Fain's grandfather Alfred founded the company as Apex Tire & Rubber in Providence, R.I., in 1924. Teknor remains in the hands of the Fain family and other private investors.