Korean firm to make acrylic tops in U.S.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - South Korean chemicals conglomerate LG Chem Ltd. plans to build a plant to make acrylic-based countertops in Georgia.
The firm's LG Chem Industrial Materials business unit will invest about $40 million in a 150,000-square-foot facility south of Calhoun, Ga., the company announced Aug. 10. The project will create up to 70 jobs in its early stages of operation.
LG Chem will produce LG Hi-Macs acrylic solid surfaces in the Georgia plant. The firm has been exporting the products from South Korea to North America, where they have been sold by LG Solid Source LLC of Peoria, Ariz. Late last year, LG Solid Source said growing demand for the solid surfaces has grown to the point where U.S. manufacturing makes sense. The surfaces are thermoformable.
Good transportation logistics and a business-friendly environment figured in LG Chem's decision to locate the plant near Calhoun, said K.S. Park, president of the Industrial Materials Co. unit of LG Chem. Production is to begin in June, LG Solid Source said last year in announcing it would build a U.S. plant. LG Chem and LG Solid Source officials were unavailable for comment.
LG Chem is a $5 billion-per-year company producing a range of chemicals, resins and industrial materials. It is a unit of LG Group of Seoul, a diverse firm with sales exceeding $70 billion.
Stepco shoots for sale before shutdown
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILL. - Injection molder Stepco Corp. has announced plans to shut down, but in the meantime is negotiating with a potential new owner.
``We are attempting to negotiate a sale to another company. We're in preliminary negotiations,'' said Mike Kaplan, who is acting chief financial officer of the Arlington Heights firm.
In its notice to the state, which said layoffs would begin Sept. 30, officials blamed a lost account.
``That was the first domino that fell,'' Kaplan said in an Aug. 9 telephone interview, declining to provide further details. He said 30 employees remain at the site, which had employed 101.
In 2002, Stepco invested $2 million in new machinery, converting to a cellular manufacturing system in an effort to win back injection molding business that had moved overseas. According to then-President Bill Morici, Stepco was building on its strength in the automotive sector.
According to Plastics News' ranking of North American injection molders, Stepco had $18 million in sales for its fiscal year ended Oct. 31, with 38 presses.
Former exec charged in pension case
GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - The federal government is charging the former president of a defunct Michigan firm, Grand Rapids Plastics Inc., with violating pension laws by diverting employee retirement funds to the company's general assets.
The Department of Labor sued Jessie Jefferson on Aug. 12, alleging that Jefferson failed to remit employee contributions to the company's 401(k) plan for two weeks last year, shortly before the Grand Rapids-based firm closed its doors.
The government said Jefferson, who was trustee of the retirement plan, did not transfer employee contributions to retirement accounts from June 26 to July 10, 2003. The firm ceased operations that July, the government said in a news release.
The government urged a federal court in Grand Rapids to order him to restore an unspecified amount of money and bar him from administering retirement plans in the future. The plan had 65 participants and $289,000 in assets in February, the Labor Department said. Attempts to reach Jefferson were unsuccessful.
ExxonMobil considers Venezuela venture
HOUSTON - ExxonMobil Chemical Co. of Houston will be working with Venezuela's state oil firm on a feasibility study that could lead to the construction of a world-scale petrochemical plant.
Work on the study will begin next month, ExxonMobil spokeswoman Margaret Ross said. The proposed plant would be in Venezuela about 140 miles east of Caracas, the capital. It would produce polyethylene, ethylene and ethylene glycol and probably would cost at least $2.5 billion, Ross said by phone Aug. 12.
ExxonMobil, one of the world's largest PE makers, and Pequiven, the petrochemical unit of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA, each would have an equal share in the project.
``This proposal is aimed at industrializing Venezuela's gas resources and growing its plastics industry,'' Ross said.
No production or job estimates are available yet.