Milacron Inc. has fired back in the ``Cincinnati vs. Cincinnati'' extruder war, promising to expand its extrusion business outside of North America in 2005.
Milacron's competitor, Cincinnati Extrusion GmbH of Vienna, Austria, announced in late May that it was going to pursue business in Milacron's back yard of North America starting early next year. A noncompete agreement between the two companies expires at the end of 2004.
Milacron had declined to comment for four months after the news broke, and again after Cincinnati Extrusion confirmed it was looking at areas around Cincinnati, the hometown of Milacron, for its new U.S. headquarters.
Milacron outlined its strategy in an Oct. 8 news release. Jim Abbiati, president of Milacron's applied processing businesses, said the company plans to use its strong North American position in wood-plastic composites, replacement screws and barrels and worldwide network to expand beyond North America.
Milacron has been limited to selling extruders only on its home turf since late 1999, when Milacron sold its Vienna extruder business to SMS AG, the German company that makes extruders under the Battenfeld and American Maplan brands. The two sides signed a noncompete agreement, keeping them out of each other's markets.
Milacron already makes injection presses and blow molding machines in Europe, with a new operation coming in China. That means the company can move quickly, Abbiati said.
``We have production facilities in Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and India,'' Abbiati said. ``We're currently ramping up for machine production in China and we have sales and service representatives around the world, so we will hardly be starting from scratch.''
Abbiati said Milacron is ``in an exceptionally strong position at home, with the infrastructure for a rapid launch of our products and services abroad.''
Milacron bought the Austrian extruder operation in 1969, to gain entry into extrusion machinery. In the 1970s, Milacron began building extruders at its main assembly plant in Batavia, Ohio.
Abbiati said Milacron used the five-year hiatus to strengthen its position in wood-plastic composites in North America - a fast-growing market in which Cincinnati Extrusion also plays. Milacron continued to improve its process technology and its line of single-screw extruders and parallel and conical twin-screw extruders.
Milacron also plans to ``rapidly transfer'' its expertise in replacement screws and barrels to regions around the world.