When Jarden Corp.'s chairman and chief executive officer, Martin Franklin, said the company did not expect to see a ``Unimark China'' last September, he probably underestimated the plastics molding unit's ambition and actions to go into Asia.
Greer, S.C.-based Jarden Plastic Solutions, formerly Unimark, will start manufacturing in China next year.
``We will start with 10-12 machines making cutlery products there,'' JPS President and Chief Operating Officer Chuck Villa said in an Oct. 21 telephone interview.
In addition to supporting the cutlery business, the China plant also will accommodate Jarden customers that need to produce in the region, spokesman Brad Davis said. But, Villa said, there is not much need today for JPS to have a big Asia presence, with its focus on consumer and medical products.
``We are not involved in electronics or other traditional industries that have moved to Asia,'' he said. But the consumer and medical industries are growing incrementally there, he noted, so there is a good outlook for growth.
JPS, the largest U.S. molder of plastic cutlery, will extend the business to Asia on the campus of an existing facility in Dongguan. Rye, N.Y.-based Jarden in July completed the acquisition of Holmes Group Inc. from Berkshire Partners LLC. Holmes brings not only about $700 million in sales, but also global facilities-including the Dongguan site.
Other than 10-12 presses to be added by JPS, the 90-plus presses already in Dongguan will be dedicated to Holmes and other Jarden entities, Davis said.
JPS currently has two plastic cutlery plants, in East Wilton, Maine, and Tupper Lake, N.Y. Both are highly automated and mainly serve North America.
JPS's Dongguan operation will feature advanced molds and equipment, Villa said. Different from its U.S. low-labor plants, the China site will use low-cost labor to handle high-volume packaging. Villa emphasized the site will not curtail JPS operations in the United States or Europe.
Meanwhile, Villa said the firm is adding presses and six-axis robots to plants in Greenville, S.C., and Springfield, Mo. Warehousing at those sites will be eliminated to create more production space.
The firm also will continue expansion in Christchurch, England. Acquired in 2003 from Plastic Injection Ltd., the 30,000-square-foot plant has added presses and increased production of medical items and contact-lens cases. A 6,000-square-foot, Class 10,000 clean room opened in April.
Following Asia, JPS also plans a production site in Mexico but the deal is in negotiations, Villa said.
Jarden imports 36,000 plastic containers a year, but only about 10 percent of its cutlery, from Asia.
JPS reported more than $200 million in 2004 injection molding and thermoforming sales.