Sumitomo Chemical America Inc. plans to build a 10 million-pound-per-year thermoplastic elastomer plant in Georgia.
The plant is expected to be operating by the second half of 2004. Although a final decision has yet to be made, Sumitomo sales and marketing manager David Risetter said it is likely the plant will be built in Conyers, Ga. The project will cost between $7 million and $8 million, Rissetter said by phone Nov. 4.
Construction of the plant, which will create 15-20 jobs, is to begin in December. The unit should be fully operational by January 2005, with production split evenly between thermoplastic olefins and thermoplastic vulcanizates for automotive applications such as body seals, interior sheet skins and air-bag covers.
The plant will be Sumitomo Chemical America's first wholly owned North American plastics site. The firm owns a stake in Chevron Phillips Sumika Chemical Co., a Houston-based polypropylene joint venture, and has air-bag-grade and sheet-grade TPEs produced on a toll basis in Alvin, Texas.
``This is part of our long-term plan,'' Risetter said. ``We started making some material [in Texas] in 1999, but we've been doing the rest by import. Now we're at an economy of scale where we can justify building a new plant.''
All of Sumitomo's North American TPE sales are into the auto market. Within the region, the firm also makes computer parts such as waferboard and distributes pharmaceutical and agricultural chemicals imported from Asia.
Sumitomo Chemical America is a unit of Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd., a Tokyo firm that posted sales of $9.2 billion last year.