Chroma Corp. has added a twin-screw compounding line with 1.5 million pounds of annual capacity in McHenry, Ill.
``This machinery will continue to support the growth we've seen in our custom color product line,'' national sales manager Peter Bogle said in a March 9 phone interview.
Chroma began operating the new line in mid-January. The addition gives Chroma almost 30 extrusion lines and about 35 million pounds of annual color compound and concentrate capacity spread out over three buildings in McHenry, where the firm is based. Combined, the buildings have 130,000 square feet of manufacturing space.
Increased demand and overall business growth also are leading Chroma to add 12-15 manufacturing employees this year, Bogle said. Chroma's sales were up 10-15 percent in 2004 and could climb 15-20 percent in 2005, he added. Privately held Chroma does not disclose sales figures.
Packaging continues to be Chroma's largest end market, contributing more than 60 percent of its sales. The firm also makes special effects such as metallics, pearlescents and edge glows. Chroma officials meet with industry trending groups at least twice a year to analyze what color changes are taking place in packaging, automotive, fashion and other markets.
The firm is considering ``smaller satellite locations'' either in the United States or abroad, Bogle added. Chroma already has access to plants in Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Poland, Brazil, South Africa and France through its membership in the International Color Alliance, a partnership launched in 2000 that now has five international members. ICA members can use each other's plants for production in foreign markets.
Like many compounders, Chroma has been forced to deal with higher resin prices in the past 18 months. The firm buys resins ranging from commodity polyolefins and styrenics to more-expensive engineering plastics.
``Every day is a challenge,'' Bogle said. ``We have to treat it on a case-by-case basis. We pass the increase on where we can. We can pass it through on some accounts, but others are more tight.''
Last year, Chroma relocated its liquid-color business from McHenry to Perth Amboy, N.J., as part of a partnership with liquid-color maker Riverdale Color Manufacturing Inc. The Chroma-Riverdale partnership is supported by machinery maker Maguire Products Inc., which is expanding the partnership's materials-handling and technical field services.