A showdown of extruder manufacturers will hit in 2005. Call it: Cincinnati vs. Cincinnati.
Vienna-based Cincinnati Extrusion GmbH announced at a May 27 news conference that, at the beginning of 2005, it will begin pursuing business in the Americas. That includes the United States, home of direct competitor Milacron Inc. of Cincinnati.
Milacron in mid-April announced it was changing the name of its U.S.-made, twin-screw extruders back to Cincinnati Milacron, and dropping the ExtrusionTek Milacron name.
Unless one side blinks, the two competitors are setting up the battle of Cincinnati brands.
Both companies share a common heritage. Milacron bought the Austrian operation back in 1969 to gain its first exposure to extrusion machinery. In the 1970s, Milacron began also building extruders in the United States, at its main assembly plant in Batavia, Ohio, near Cincinnati.
After 30 years of ownership, Milacron in 2000 sold the Vienna extruder plant to SMS AG, which also makes Battenfeld and American Maplan extruders. SMS also got the right to retain the decades-old brand name, calling the business Cincinnati Extrusion.
Right now, the Austrian plant does very little business in North or South America - only about 2 percent of its total sales. But Walter HÃ¤der, managing director of Cincinnati Extrusion, vowed to change that.
``Vienna has always been the center of development for extrusion applications,'' HÃ¤der said at a pre-K 2004 news conference held in Vienna by SMS Plastics Technology of Meinerzhagen, Germany.
Where will Cincinnati Extrusion's U.S. operation be located - Cincinnati, perhaps? HÃ¤der said: ``The decision has not been made concerning the location. But we will certainly take a very hard look at the Midwest.''
HÃ¤der and marketing director Hans Berlisg are touring potential U.S. locations now.
Milacron brought back the ``Cincinnati'' moniker after finishing a major refinancing deal in March. The company also resurrected Cincinnati Milacron for the name and logo on its Batavia-built injection molding machines.
A Milacron spokesman declined to comment on the U.S. news from Cincinnati Extrusion.
Cincinnati Extrusion makes extruders for pipe, profile and sheet. The Austrian company is active in the wood-plastic composite market - a strong market for Milacron. In the European market, wood composites are used in home interiors and furniture, unlike the U.S. market, which is dominated by outdoor decking.
SMS paid $47 million for Cincinnati Extrusion in 2000. Currently, the Vienna company employs 380. The company has annual sales of 67 million euros (about $80 million). Cincinnati Extrusion makes single-screw extruders, conical twin-screw extruders and parallel twin-screw machines.
Both companies declined to discuss any contractual issues of the 2000 sale. They would not say if the deal specifically included rights to the Cincinnati name, or if it contained any type of noncompete clause.
Europe and Asia account for nearly 90 percent of sales at Cincinnati Extrusion. HÃ¤der said now is a good time to crack the American market.
``Over the last two years, the environment in the U.S. wasn't really enticing for us, and now we see it coming back. We have developed very good technology in the wood extrusion area, and we see a lot of opportunity,'' he said.
The company had the U.S. market in mind when it developed a new conical extruder, dubbed Konos, that will debut at the K show this fall in Dusseldorf, Germany.
OK, but really, two Cincinnati brands of extruders? What does HÃ¤der think of Milacron bringing back the Cincinnati name?
``I can't comment on that. But the market will have to decide which is the real brand behind the Cincinnati name,'' he said.