Matrixx Group has kept up its growth rate in the past 12 months, replacing a smaller single-screw extrusion line with a larger one at one of its Evansville plants and adding a new single-screw line at its Houston plant.
The larger single-screw line has increased total compounding capacity at Matrixx's three plants in Evansville to almost 200 million pounds. The firm also operates about 100 million pounds of recycling capacity there, according to Chief Operating Officer Keith Rodden.
In Houston, the new line will add 10 million pounds of polypropylene compounding capacity a year. Companywide, PP makes up 60-75 percent of Matrixx's compounding sales.
The firm also operates a plant in Nashville and is in the final stages of acquiring a plant in Bethlehem, Pa. Last year, Matrixx also formed a joint venture with compounder and recycler Tessil Futura srl of Marcaria, Italy.
At its main Evansville plant - opened in 1998 - Matrixx operates five single-screw lines and one twin-screw line. The firn's 250,000-square-foot plant, which has been expanded twice since opening, employs 80. Matrixx employs 225 overall.
The compounder has averaged 15 percent annual sales growth for the past five years and is on track to hit that mark again in 2005, Rodden said. An increase in engineering resin work and higher-margin PP compounds is spurring growth.
``We're very comfortable with polypropylene being where it's at in our product mix,'' Rodden said in a recent interview in Evansville.
``But we want to continue to reduce our dependence on commodity-grade compounds. We want to do less calcium and talc work.''
Offering a broader product mix also has opened up Matrixx to a broader spectrum of customers, officials said.
Sales of compounds based on polycarbonate, nylon, polybutylene terephthalate and other engineering resins are growing at a company-high annual rate of 20-30 percent.
``We're not married to one resin or one resin technology,'' said Matrixx's president of engineered products, Robert Crowe. ``For one customer, we recently replaced a glass-reinforced, flame-retardant polypropylene with a polycarbonate.
``That kind of thing gives us more credibility with engineers, because we're not trying to put polypropylene into every application and make it fit,'' he said.
Matrixx also has capitalized on new engineering-resin-based products that customers were less interested in during the boom years of the economy.
``The late '90s were tough for us,'' said Robert Brinkmann, technology vice president. ``The economy was still good and it was tough to get engineers to look at new products. Then in the early 2000s, everyone was downsizing and looking for cost savings. Suddenly, they said they were interested in our new products again.''
Automotive remains Matrixx's largest end market, with about 22 percent of sales. The electrical/ electronic sector isn't far behind and is the firm's fastest-growing market, thanks to sales gains in connectors and components in small appliances and heating, venting and air conditioning systems, officials said.
Matrixx is on pace to post sales of $115 million in 2005, with about 20 percent of that coming from resin distribution.
The firm is owned by a group of about 20 management employees, with controlling interest remaining in the hands of founder Raymond Wright and his family.
The history of Matrixx is a circular one. Wright founded the firm as Complas Industries, a compounder, in 1973. He added a distribution unit called Replas Inc. in 1975, before selling both businesses to Ferro Corp. of Cleveland in 1979.
Wright and several employees, including Rodden and Crowe, were bound to Ferro contractually for five years after the sale. Once that obligation ran out, Wright reacquired Replas in 1985 and eventually got back into compounding.
Matrixx now competes with Ferro, which operates out of the former Complas location in Evansville.