Specialty compounder Compounding Solutions LLC is bucking the downward economic trend by adding 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space and installing a pair of new extrusion lines at its plant in Lewiston, Maine.
The firm also is making inroads with its Rezilient line of styrenic block copolymer compounds, which it introduced earlier this year, according to marketing and sales director Jeff Robinson.
The expansion, which will double the size of the Lewiston facility, will be complete by the end of the year. The project is expected to create four or five new jobs for Compounding Solutions, which currently employs 14 and operates three extrusion lines.
The introduction of Rezilient represents a change in strategy for the 4-year-old firm. It is the firm's first broad-based, widely offered product line, as compared to the custom work that Compounding Solutions has done to date.
``We had no stock products - everything was made to order,'' Robinson said. ``But we had seen such demand for overmolded products, where a customer can engineer a substrate and overmold, that we decided to come out with Rezilient.''
Rezilient grades are available in translucent, transparent, standard or custom colors and can be filled with glass, talc, metal or mineral. To date, they've been used widely in surgical and clinical devices. Compounding Solutions has a solid knowledge of those applications, since about 70 percent of its sales are into the medical market, Robinson said.
Color and additive concentrates make up about 20 percent of the firm's product base, with the rest coming from custom and elastomeric compounds based on a range of resins. Robinson said the firm has compounded most commodity and engineering resins, with the exceptions of PVC and acetal. About 75 percent of its sales come from the Northeast.
Compounding Solutions apparently is pleased with early results from Rezilient, since it plans a second broad-based offering for early 2004. Robinson declined to provide details on that product.
Privately held Compounding Solutions also does not release annual sales totals. The firm is the second venture into the compounding market for Scott Neal, who launched specialty compounder Poly Colors in Auburn, Maine, in 1990.
Neal and his cousin Russ Neal - who had become a partner in the firm - sold that business to Clariant Masterbatches in 1997. Scott Neal stayed with Clariant briefly before opening Compounding Solutions in 1999. Scott Neal currently serves as Compounding Solutions' president, while Russ Neal remains at Clariant.
Scott Neal's father, Robert Neal, also is involved in the plastics market. Robert Neal owns and operates antistatic films maker Purestat Technologies, which employs 40 at a site in Lewiston. He also owns a minority stake in Compounding Solutions.